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BusinessWeek's Haddad: "Apple's School Days Are Numbered"

BusinessWeek's Haddad: "Apple's School Days Are Numbered"

by , 10:00 AM EDT, August 13th, 2003

Back in the mid 80s, you may have seen a classroom full of Apple IIe or IIgs machines, maybe a Mac Plus or two. According to an article by Charles Haddad at BusinessWeek, you'd be more likely to see a room full of drab, beige PCs today. Worse yet, he says that Apple has forever lost the battle for the classroom, and that the "lemming effect" will keep those classes moving to Windows. This, despite a recent uptick in education sales for the company.

According to the article, parents are demanding that children have access to the same computers at school that they use at home, which is usually a Windows-based PC. Despite generally Mac-loving teachers crying foul, many schools are consolidating on a Windows-PC-only network. From BusinessWeek:

Mom and dad have spoken, and what they say is this: Why should my child work on a Mac in class when most people use PCs at home and in the office? I've heard this lament time and again in my son's schools over the years. To listen to these parents, you'd think the schools were forcing children to use a history book that says the world is flat.

Such complaints speak loudly to Apple's (AAPL) fall from grace in education. Oh, sure, it's O.K. for parents to think different -- as long as it's the same different as everyone else. Now, Apple's real battle to regain lost market share in education is about behavior, not pricing.

Today, PCs have little price advantage over Macs. Apple's eMac, designed as a low-cost model for school systems, costs $50 more, at most, than a comparable low-end PC. Big deal. Several independent studies have shown that a network of Macs is still the least expensive to run and maintain. And Macs remain nothing if not durable. Here and there you'll still find an original Mac -- not to mention a few Apple IIs -- hard at work in classrooms.

You can read the full article at BusinessWeek's Web site.

The Mac Observer Spin:

What parents and school administrators don't seem to understand is that computers in schools and classrooms should be there not to teach kids specifically how to use the latest version of Microsoft Windows XP, but to teach them general computer skills that will be applicable to any system they may use in the real world. As an example, many of today's young adults grew up using Apple II systems and early Macs in school, and generally have no trouble adapting to a new computing environment.

Riverside High School should no more have a Ford Focus Driver's Training course than it should have a 100% Windows-based environment. A school that offers only Windows-based PCs is failing its students. This isn't to say that schools should be 100% Mac, either. Students should have access to varying computer systems, be it Windows XP, Mac OS X, or even Linux.

Children should be learning how to use computers, not how to be good little Microsoft customers.

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