Why Can't Johnny Mac? (10/18/00)

See, now here's the sort of thing that always gives us the heebie-jeebies. First we've got Apple issuing an earnings warning in part due to slow sales in one of its long-time strongholds, the education market. Then we get the news that, at least according to one set of numbers, Dell has knocked Apple out of the top spot in education sales. And now faithful viewer Vince Briones points out further evidence of what appears to be a very disturbing trend: the increasing tendency of schools to opt for Wintels over Macs.

Here's the scoop: according to the Boston Globe, it seems that AtAT's home state of Massachusetts is looking to require that all students at its public colleges "buy and use their own laptops." In and of itself, that doesn't sound like such a bad idea; as far as we're concerned, we would have loved an excuse to force the ol' parental units to buy us PowerBooks back when we were in school. Unfortunately, it sounds like PowerBooks and iBooks won't be an option for many of the students of tomorrow anyway, because of the voucher-based subsidy program that the state is reportedly putting together. Massachusetts wants to reduce the cost of laptops for students who receive financial aid by issuing price vouchers, but to do that, "state officials have been in talks with computer makers IBM, Compaq, Gateway, and Dell." Notice anyone missing from that list?

The real tragedy, of course, is that the iBook is a great option for many college students: it's low-cost, fast, stylish, and rugged enough to survive all those times it'll get dropped when its owner is falling-down drunk. (Er, it's probably best not to mention that selling point to the parents.) But even those students who don't need vouchers and aren't going to be financially locked into a Wintel purchase may not have much of a choice. If this proposed laptop ownership requirement comes to pass, we imagine it's pretty darn likely that the state would issue a set of specs to which all student laptops must conform-- and we're betting it's going to be a very Wintel-centric list.

This all sounds like just another symptom of the disease, and hopefully Apple is working on a cure. Deep down, though, while we'd love to believe that Apple has representatives lobbying away at the Massachusetts bigwigs trying to gets Macs included in this proposed laptop requirement, we strongly suspect that the company is ignoring the situation altogether. And with literally tens of thousands of young adults who may soon need to buy laptops to attend Massachusetts public colleges just itching to spend their parents' money, if Apple isn't working hard to get in on the action, it's throwing away a golden opportunity.

SceneLink (2620)
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The above scene was taken from the 10/18/00 episode:

October 18, 2000: Steve Jobs dashes all hopes of an iPresident by endorsing Gore-- or is it all just a cunning plan? Meanwhile, Massachusetts may soon require all public college students to buy laptops, but PowerBooks need not apply, and rumors surface once again of an Apple-branded multi-button mouse...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2619: Hey, There's Always 2004 (10/18/00)   You know, this may sound crazy or something, but we're actually starting to wonder if maybe Steve Jobs isn't planning to run for President. After all, time's really starting to run out, here; the election is less than three weeks away, and yet the Stevester still hasn't even announced his candidacy yet...

  • 2621: Who's Got The Button(s)? (10/18/00)   Mac traditionalists can't be having an easy time these days. Over the past decade we've all seen lots of changes to the Apple landscape. Remember back when IBM was the enemy? Remember when Microsoft wasn't our "friend"?...

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