Here is an article about what Apple shoud produce for schools.

Where is the Apple Student Laptop?

Tags: Apple, Classmate, Holt, Intel, Laptops, Technology, Tim

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Tim, great article.
My comment (as I left it on the site):
I agree that the software drives the sales of the hardware for Apple. The issue with the student laptop you describe is that it lacks enough processing power and memory to run iWork or iLife, the two workhorse suites in Apple education circles. You make a number of excellent points about Apple's innovations re the iPod and handwriting. My guess is that if Apple perceives that it is beginning to loose sales to Asus, HP, mini's it will come out with a killer student laptop.

Given the great technology at work in the iPhone and the iTouch/iPod it is curious that Apple has been slow to market with a student laptop.
I think the main reason that you don't see Apple ( and many other computer companies) selling these types of computers, is that they are making such big profit margins from the computers that they sell to education, that they would be cutting their profits. Why settle for $50.00 profit when you can get $500.00 profits? You only have to sell a fraction of the computers. Some of these companies have lower priced computers, but they do not market them here in the US, only to other countries that can't afford to spend the kind of money that we spend here in the states (not that we can afford it either). Here is an example of one such case , and there are many more!

The computer that is spec'd out in the article would probably be a great computer for 90% of what everyone uses computers for. Tom brings out an interesting comment, when he states that it probably won't run iMovie or iLife, but then again, what percentage of the work done on school computers involves these types of programs? I think that is the beauty of the OLPC initiative! Today, in our schools 90% of what we want to be able to do, could easily be done on a 486 computer with windows 95 ( web browsing, word processing, spread sheets, data bases, paint programs, etc). In fact if my old Commodore 64 or Apple IIe could do web, we could probably use those too (although we may have to extend the school day so that we can get the programs loaded *LOL*). But I think a big problem we have, is we try to do everything with all of our computers, instead of using what will work for the lowest price. I am sure that everyone that has ever moved would have loved to own a moving truck when they were moving, but I don't think it would make much sense to have a moving truck sitting in my garage so that I have the capability when I need it!

One of the big advantages of the OLPC project is that it is non-profit. Yes Asus and Intel can make a low priced computer, but where were they before the OLPC? Their sales takes away from the momentum of the OLPC, and that is part of the reason they are doing it. Because if the OLPC was able to succeed in being the $100.00 laptop for education, it would drive their profit margins through the floor. Remember Intel is in 90% of the computers that the schools now buy, so it is in Intel's best interest that this initiative (OLPC) does not succeed!

Well I guess thats enough of a rant for now! Hope it all makes sense.
Actually, Apple is pretty responsive to the eduction market. I think they know that there is a "sweet-spot" for some sort of mini-laptop or hybrid personal computing device that will return enough profit in enough volume. The iPod touch is getting close and it will be interesting to see how many education applications are developed for it now that they have released the iPhone/Touch dev kit.

Back to the issue of the Apple software, while I realize that they don't hold the k-12 market share they once did, iMovie and GarageBand are enormously popular with teachers and kids. That is part of the value in purchasing MacBooks or iMacs for schools.

I think its true that lesser computers can do much of what we need to do but question how responsive a 486 running Win'95 would be once your browser hit an AJAX-heavy Web 2.0 site (like Ning) or how well Flash player would perform.

I don't think its necessary to be on running the fastest processors out there, but I work with kids and they aren't exactly patient when it comes to waiting for the screen to refresh or for an application to open or save.

My opinion of the OLPC project is that its a great effort.
I would Love an apple laptop that is kid friendly. While the price point is important it would need to incorporate the kid friendly design of the OLPC. The replacement battery would need to be under 20 dollars. It would have to be water resistant and have a sealed keyboard like the XO.

Once of the big problems with the FTL laptops was the batteries died after year 2 and the 90 replacement cost per unti were way to expensive. Plus because they could break so easily by sliding off a table or the goo from sticky little finger leaking through to the mother board., they simply were not long lasting.

The OLPC has opened by the eyes of many people to see that a more kid friendly laptop is very much desired
It's tough to spec these things out when school districts insist that manufacturers compete for contracts based primarily on price. It forces manufacturers to drive down the cost of the machine so far that they don't have enough memory, processor speed, or hard drive space to allow students to use the very creativity programs that make these computers so important.

If you want to buy an extremely cheap computer, you have to sacrifice something. There's just no free lunch.
As Tom pointed out, using creativity software like iMovie and iLife on a Mac takes a lot of memory and hard drive space. They are one of the main reasons that people want Macs in any walk of life, not just students. And yet, many schools end up purchasing underpowered machines that can't do the very things that drove the laptop dream in the first place.

Almost any machine can handle basic office apps, surfing, keeping a photo album and downloading stuff, and I'm sure that any kid would figure out any operating system. But hopefully in schools the use of computers is aimed at creating multimedia, audio, video, simulations, and other things that need higher end machines and stimulate higher order thinking skills.

My exact point is that schools SHOULD be striving to push the limits on what students can do with computers.
Many schools that were using laptops have gone back to work stations because young chidren tend to :
1. Drop them
2. Have sticky fingers that make the keyboards hard to clean when they are over the CPU
3. Have high battery replacement cpsts
4. Heat up too much
5. Do not last longenough- Schools look at a 5-7 year turn around

In my humble opinion schools want the speed, functionality of the typical laptop but ...add would LOVE a sealed keyboard...more robust case ablity to handle the wear and tear kids give them...and a reasonable priced replacement battery.

And since I am dreaming-how about cheaper ink prices as well???



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