Help Me Understand This
For many years the MacBook has been a workhorse for students and staff in many school districts. In January of 2011, the MacBook was still Apple’s second-best selling laptop. Then, over the summer, they discontinued the model for consumers. That was very concerning.
However, they still offered the model for education. I met with our Apple reps in December to begin discussing the refresh of our teacher laptops, all of which are MacBooks. I expressed my concern about the MacBook going away, and they assured me that there was no indication that was going to take place. If it did, they promised, there would still be plenty of stock remaining once an announcement was made to purchase the units we needed for our refresh.
This past week, I received the email I knew was coming. The MacBook was dead. As our reps promised, there was an end of life inventory left, but those units were going to go quickly, so anybody who wanted/needed any had to act immediately. Which, for anyone trying to work outside of a budget purchase cycle, is impossible. I asked if they could reserve the necessary units for our purchase, and they said they could not do that. They needed a PO immediately, which we simply weren’t in a position to do. As I was frantically trying to work out the means for us to make the purchase, I got a second email. All of the end of life stock was gone.
So too might be their focus on education.
Here’s where things get infuriating. The new solution for schools is an “education-priced” MacBook Air. For $999 when purchased in bulk.
The MacBook Air comes with a 64 GB hard drive (welcome to 2001), 2 GB of RAM (non-upgradeable), 1.6 GHz processor, no ethernet port (to connect to ethernet costs an additional $29 for a USB dongle), and no optical drive. All of these are significant steps down from the MacBook specs. And, we could get the MacBooks in bulk for $849.
So, we get to pay $150 more per unit for a whole lot less. Awesome.
The MacBook Air is an excellent computer for road warriors. Which, our teachers are not. We are now expected to pay a premium for the portability of a device that we don’t need to be ultraportable. Our reality is that we need much more than 64 GB given all of the multimedia work our staff has now started engaging in. We also need an optical drive as our staff use theirs literally every day. We need the ethernet port as that helps us balance the load on our wireless given that we are 1:1 in grades 5-8 and are looking to add grades 3+4 next year.
When I expressed this to our Apple rep, he explained that while he understood, the position of Apple has recently been to encourage schools who don’t favor the Air to look at the MacBook Pro. Awesome, again. So, we now have to spend $250 more per unit. Yes, those units would have the functionality we need, but we’re not in a position to spend $1,100 per device for all our staff members. That would be $62,500 more for the purchase. That’s significant.
What are you doing, Apple? Because by all rights, it looks like you’ve worked very hard to force us away from using you in our institution.