Apple Computer beat out Dell, IBM and HP to win a US$25 million contract with the Cobb County, Ga. School District that will provide some 63,000 G4 iBooks to every student and teacher in the district within four years, the school system and Apple confirmed Monday. The deal also includes Microsoft Office for Mac on every laptop, The Mac Observer has been told.
Being called by Apple "one of the largest ever one-to-one computer learning initiatives" in the U.S., the contract calls for the initial deployment of 17,000 iBook to teachers and students at four pilot high schools. After training, the goal is to deploy the remaining 46,000 laptops to middle school students at other locations.
"The long term goal is to provide all our high school and middle school students with iBooks," Jay Dillon, Cobb County school Director of Communications, told TMO. "While we have an ambitious plan, we have no exact timeline for full implementation, but will begin later this month or in June with delivery of iBooks to teachers for their initial training."
Mr. Dillon said the decision to go with Apple came after a long process that included visits to a number of other U.S. school districts who also use Macintosh computers.
"This is a arduous and rigorous search," he said. "We looked at other school districts around the U.S. and we learned a lot from them. They had support issues and issues related to software and we learned how we could do things better from their experiences."
In the end, Mr. Dillon said Cobb County chose Apple because price, performance and their overall plan made the most sense.
"Appleis proposal was far and away the superior proposal," he commented. "Apple had the best package of hardware, software, training and support at the best price. We feel like Apple has a lot of experience nationwide in the education market. Theyive handled this type of large scale implementation before. Weire confident in their ability to do this."
"Weire thrilled to work with Cobb County public schools on this landmark one-to-one initiative," said Tim Cook, Appleis executive vice president of Worldwide Sales and Operations, in a prepared statement. "School districts across the country have improved student achievement with the help of Appleis one-to-one solutions, and this ambitious project will give Cobb County students a tremendous academic advantage."
Office a major part of the deal
Microsoft Office for Mac was key to the Apple/Cobb County deal, according to Mr. Dillon.
"Office had to be part of the deal," Mr. Dillon said. "We learned from other school districts that Office was a key ingredient. It will be on every iBook."
Also preloaded on every laptop will be Appleis iLife suite, WorldBook encyclopedia, a graphing calculator, Appleis Safari Web browser, as well as Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mr. Dillon confirmed.
Mr. Dillon said that while the program will be an aggressive one, the plan is to provide "ample time" for training of teachers first and then students. "Weire going to take this one step at a time and their will be various evaluations along the way, with the help of teachers, students, parents and Apple."