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Apple versus Dell on education

Jim Polaski from Chicago writes that Dell has captured the education market by not by being the best tool for the job, but by being the least expensive tool to buy.


Apple versus Dell on education

In response to the June 14 interview with Dell Computer General Manager Bill Rodrigues, "Taking a bite out of Apple":

I read your article on Apple, Dell Computer and education; it was a very interesting interview. I do have several observations.

While it is true that in the "professional world" one mostly sees Windows, this has happened for reasons different from those Bill Rodrigues has given. Also, if one looks at the K-12 education marketplace with the reasoning that children should use what the "professional world" uses, nothing could be farther from the truth. If this were true, could Rodrigues say that a student in 8th grade today uses the same hardware businesses do? Positively not.

Further, it is more important to teach concepts than applications. It is absurd to look at "business solutions" as solving "education problems." There are sufficient applications for both Windows and Mac in education to fit the needs of nearly any teacher. So either will work.

A school should not focus on platform, but total costs. Windows computers of any kind are vastly more expensive to install and maintain than Macs. They might be cheap to buy, but are expensive to operate and maintain. And that is nearly a 5-1 ratio in costs of Wintel, when compared to Mac. It would be more appropriate to ask the education market why it insists on spending more financial resources on Wintel computers--and thus spending tax dollars in a less than responsible manner.

Often what school districts buy in terms of computers is not chosen by the teachers, but by an IS technician (acting as an advisor) or an administrator/superintendent or school board member--people who often aren't teachers.

Go look back at recent accounts of schools that have moved to Windows. The commentary goes something like, "Apple cost us $1000 per computer, Dell offered us $899. We'll go with Dell." That is how Dell has captured the education market. Not by being the best tool for the job, but by being the least expensive to buy.

Have you ever gone to Dell's Education Web site and Apple's Education Web site? If so, do you see any difference in what is offered to the education marketplace? Apple offers a total solution--not just hardware, but peripherals, training, technology planning, staff development and more. Dell is a hardware supplier, little more.

Jim Polaski, Chicago