Survey shows support for Henrico iBook program with ‘lukewarm support’ for Apple’s Mac OS X

“The first comprehensive study of the groundbreaking Apple iBook initiative in Henrico County’s public schools shows that most students want the laptop program to continue even though some are unsure how much it is helping them academically. The survey, conducted for the School Board by a Northern Virginia consulting firm, also found that most parents support the program even though they prefer Windows-based computers and most teachers favor its continuation even though it has added to their workloads,” Tom Lappas reports for The Henrico Citizen. “Henrico became the first school system in the nation to lease laptop computers for all of its high-school students when it entered into a four-year agreement with Apple in 2001. A four-year agreement for middle-school students began the following year.”

Lappas reports, “The School Board is considering whether to extend its high-school contract with Apple for another three or four years or take another direction. Its decision, expected in the coming months, will be made with a national audience watching. Henrico earned international fame for its agreement in 2001, and a decision to continue the initiative or end it will be viewed by many as either a validation or indictment of the overall concept.”

“According to parents who participated in the survey, students spend an average of 1.8 hours per day using their iBooks while at home. The survey did not ask how much of that time was devoted to schoolwork and how much was spent on recreational use,” Lappas reports. “The survey also found that 90 percent of families have another family computer at home, and that 92 percent of those computers are Windows-based. The survey found lukewarm support for the Apple operating system; 54 percent of parents would prefer a Windows-based system for their children, while only 12 percent favor Apple. High-school students also favor Windows over Apple, 51 percent to 24 percent, but middle-schoolers prefer Apple 41 percent to 36 percent. Teachers were split at 34 percent apiece, while administrators showed the strongest support for Apple, selecting it over Windows 66 percent to 8 percent. Surveys were completed by about 80 percent of all students, 81 percent of teachers and 69 percent of administrators.”

Full article with more details here.

MacDailyNews Take: The younger students, perhaps more open to change, favor the Mac, as do the administrators. This bodes well for Apple’s Mac platform’s future. There may be a resistance to change in people who are long-time Windows users or are very familiar with Windows or there may be some students who want the latest games or any number of other interesting reasons for the survey’s results. The survey states favor for Windows or the Mac, but the article doesn’t explain the reasons why some prefer one OS or the other. Why do you think that some of the groups studied prefer Windows and some prefer Mac OS X?

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Henrico poll finds students are using iBooks successfully – February 11, 2005
Henrico iBooks raise concerns among some parents – May 28, 2004
Henrico high school laptop program to continue, but will it still feature Apple Macs? – February 24, 2005


  1. it’s all those damn windows pc’s in businesses. parents think you need to learn windows to succeed in corporate computing, which is total BS. windows won’t look anything like it does now (except that it’ll still suck) in 10+ years when these kids actually are using computers at work…jeez

  2. Yes, they are using OS X. I visited the program last spring in preparation for implementing our own 1:1 laptop program in the Fullerton School District in Southern California.

  3. A couple of questions:
    1) What software was shipped with the iBooks in the program? Were the students using AppleWorks or M$ Office?
    2) Were the iBooks equipped with adequate memory, or the sluggish base memory shipped on the retail models of the time? If memory serves me correctly, the iBooks of the time came with 128MB standard- barely enough to run OS X.
    As to the parents preference, many average Joes and Janes think that knowledge of Windows is somehow a necessary work skill. I blame Apple for that. People use APPLICATIONS- not operating systems. If the OS is doing it’s job it will stay out of the way and help you get your work done. Windows is an impediment to efficient workflow.
    Finally-maybe the students opinion of windows is jaded by their use of Mac OS during the ramp-up of malware/viruses during the time of the program in the schools. If they had to get their work done AFTER cleaning up their Windows boxes on an almost daily basis, their opinion of the M$ OS may have been different.
    I hope Apple didn’t shoot itself in the foot by shipping underpowered iBooks with minimal software in order to increase their profit margin. If they did, they were very shortsighted.

  4. NoPCZone:


    My biggest bitch is the amount of ram that comes with stock Macintoshes. A newbie rarely has someone to guide them in this area, and there is no reason for a Switcher or a first time buyer to ‘know” they need more ram for a faster computer.

    I just switched someone from a PC to Mini last week and made sure he had AT LEAST 512mb. He’s as pleased as punch right now and loves it.

    A PeeCee user who swithches from a zippier machine to a Mac is going to have a sour taste that will last for years if they leave the store with 256 megs.

    Tell me. If I am a switcher or computer or computer virgin will a sales person automatically try to sell me up to more ram? How about catalogs? Is it perceived as ‘help’ or a predatory sales technique?

    This ram thing bugs me a lot, and I don’t know if the follks in the ivory towers at Apple are hip to this problem. Or at least to the length that it affects future sales and word of mouth.

    We have a whole new generation of young buyers ‘hatching’ right now (partially because of the iPod) and we have to grab them when they are making their first impressions.


    david vesey

  5. For those who are hooked on gaming, the newest games are released on PC’s first. Mac is catching up, but for those who want to have ALL the games immediately, the PC is the choice.

    IM’ing is another reason. For MSN Messenger, there are more features and interoperability between PC’s than there are between PC and Mac which could also account for a large portion of the audience. iChat/AOLIM is a great service, but, again, you don’t have the full range of features in mac to pc that you do from mac to mac.

    Little things like this can make a huge difference in platform preference.

  6. Lies, damned lies, and statistics.

    A bunch of things pop out of that article:

    1 – “54 percent of parents would prefer a Windows-based system for their children, while only 12 percent favor Apple.”

    What about the other 34%? What do they favor?

    2 – “The survey found lukewarm support for the Apple operating system.”

    Mac OS 9.x or Mac OS X? Were the systems upgraded regularly?

    3 – “while administrators showed the strongest support for Apple, selecting it over Windows 66 percent to 8 percent.”

    Hello? What’s that say? People who “know” prefer the Mac?

    4 – “The survey did not ask how much of that time was devoted to schoolwork and how much was spent on recreational use.”

    That’s like, oh, I dunno, a REALLY important piece of information, don’t you think??

    5 – “High-school students also favor Windows over Apple, 51 percent to 24 percent, but middle-schoolers prefer Apple 41 percent to 36 percent.”

    Amazingly, Apple’s 2% marketshare becomes 24% “preference share” for high schoolers who haven’t been as heavily indoctrinated by the Microsoft Industrial Complex. Among middle-schoolers (less indoctrination by MIC) Apple is preferred.


    Tera Patricks

  7. Many high schoolers who use computers are addicted to the social networks that are more available to Windows computers. Please don’t make me name names. I know there are OS X alternatives but most of the chat software out there has only marginal support for OS X, lacking many of the extra personal and security-risky features like file sharing and video streaming.

    More kids have Windows and that makes more kids want the same things their friends have. Maybe when the younger kids learn to prefer OS X they will stick with it through High School. It’s these social “tools” after all that spread viruses and malware so rampantly. Kids don’t question what their friends send them.

    As for Tera Patricks,

    #1) The other 34% have no preference.

    #2) OS X, but if it’s 10.1, I can understand the preference for Windows in many cases. 10.3 is so much better, but I doubt they are using that.

    #3) I am surprised by 66% pro-mac. I would think these people would be the most stuck in their ways. They are the group, however, that chose Apple in the first place.

    #4) I might hazard a guess that Mac users would spend more time on homework simply because there are fewer options for games and social networking. I play games on my Mac daily, but Windows undeniably has more options here. And more pirated copies.

    #5) See my lead paragraphs. That said, my niece, a high schooler in a Windows world and very social would much rather have an iBook because she’s sick of the problems with her Dell laptop.

  8. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force it to drink. So let them have Windows and all of it’s headaches if that’s what they prefer. There are always going to be people out there that wouldn’t know quality if it slapped them in the face anyway, so just let them live that way…

  9. What strikes me after reading the article, and every time I read about one of these laptop programs, is that they seem to simply add computers to the curriculum and say nothing about a computer-centric curriculum.

    I think that if they wrote a curriculum that used the computers as a true multimedia textbook replacement we would see some benefit.

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