Apple to supply 36,000 laptops to Maine schools

Apple Computer has been awarded a contract to supply 36,000 laptops, along with appropriate applications and services, to Maine’s seventh- and eighth-grade students and their teachers for the 2006-2007 school year as part of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative.

The state began the initiative to familiarize its schoolchildren with the tools and resources they will be using when they move into the workplace. The laptops come with a slate of standard applications such as word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and e-mail, along with multimedia applications that will enable students to create audio-visual presentations.

The four-year contract also requires Apple to provide upgraded wireless networks for all the middle schools participating in the initiative, along with appropriate server capacity, training and technical support.

The win is a significant one for Apple, which has traditionally been one of the strongest performers in the education market but which has been perceived as losing ground in the past few years to Dell and other companies that provide computers that run Microsoft Windows.

Bette Manchester, director of special projects at the Maine Department of Education, said the department was "pleased with the strong educational focus” of Apple’s proposal.

The Apple bid sets a cost of $289 per seat, and includes Mac OS X Server-hosted e-mail accounts for all users, including private messaging accounts inside of a hosted StudyWiz environment. The contract also includes help-desk services.

The award remains subject to legislative approval of the Education Department’s budget for the coming school year, and must also be approved by the State Purchases Review Committee, but is otherwise final.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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