“Cobb County wants Apple Computer to provide laptop computers to more than 63,000 teachers and students in what would be one of the largest such programs in the country. System officials Monday acknowledged the choice, but declined further comment until Wednesday — including the multimillion-dollar price tag. At a meeting Wednesday, Superintendent Joseph Redden is scheduled to unveil the details in a presentation to school board members,” Kristina Torres reports for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Board members will be asked for approval next month, when the first of three phases of the program comes before them for a vote. On March 9, they will be asked to approve a program to provide laptops to all the district’s teachers this spring. They will also be asked to approve money to set up four school demonstration sites in the fall,” Torres reports. “The second phase will be to provide the computers to high school students in early 2006, and the third and final phase will be to provide the computers to middle school students.”

Torres reports, “Cobb has spent months negotiating with companies including IBM and Dell, and previously estimated the cost at more than $69.4 million over four years. That figure does not include negotiated expenses such as support, training and maintenance.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Back in August 2003, Charles Haddad, writing for BusinessWeek, lamented the Mac’s future in education with the words, “Alas, despite Apple’s best efforts, enthusiasts such as [Pro-Mac teachers] probably can only slow the erosion, with Apple assuming the niche role it has in so many other markets. But they can’t turn the tide. The lemmings, I’m afraid, have won the day in education.”

Sorry, Charlie, we never forget and we never give up. Neither does Apple. Charles was wrong about Apple in education.* As others were and are about Apple in other markets. Never forget that in 1929, Ford held just over 61% of the U.S. market for automobiles. General Motors’ market share stood at just 12%. Ford was thought to be invincible, with GM regarded as a niche auto maker. But, in 1936, just seven years later, Ford held 22% of the market for new automobiles while General Motors held a 43% share. No company is invincible. Not even Microsoft.

*Apple’s sales to the education market showed a 19% increase in unit sales and 21% increase in revenue which was Apple’s biggest education quarter in four years, Apple revealed in their fiscal Q4 conference call this past October. Apple showed a 9% increase in sales to the K-12 sector and a 34% increase in higher education, driven largely by sales of iBook and PowerBook portable Macintoshes.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
A tale of two school systems: Windows schools crippled while Mac schools unaffected – August 21, 2003
BusinessWeek: Apple’s fate in schools is to assume niche status – August 13, 2003