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Apple, Compaq go back to school

Compaq unveils a new line of computers for the education market while Apple touts its large sales of iMacs and other equipment to school districts.

Compaq today unveiled a new line of computers for the education market while Apple touted large sales of iMacs to school districts and demonstrated a variety of products to educators at an education conference in Florida.

Both Compaq Computer and Apple Computer find themselves vying for a piece of a fast growing market and one where Apple still has the largest installed base of computers.

U.S. school districts will spend an estimated $5.4 billion on educational technology during the 1998-99 school year, up from $4.8 billion in 1997-98, according to a forecast from Quality Education Data.

Apple said at an education conference in Florida that K-12 schools in New York, Texas, and Wisconsin have recently purchased more than $11 million worth of iMacs, Power Macintoshes, and other equipment from the company. The largest order came from New York City, where over $6 million was recently allocated for new Macintosh systems and software, including more than 3,200 iMac computers and associated software bundles.

Apple did not specify whether or not the orders will impact its second quarter fiscal 1999 results, typically a slow quarter for education sales.

Among the offerings Apple displayed at the show were new software packages aimed for use by specific age groups, as well as Internet-based training for educators that show how to integrate technology into the classroom curriculum.

Apple is hoping to hold on to its lead in the education market, which has seen a slide from historical highs. In 1998, the company had 28 percent market share based on systems shipped, according to International Data Corporation, compared to Compaq's 15 percent market share. Apple's numbers were actually up from 1997, where it had 26 percent market share, and represented a slightly larger lead over Compaq, which had 14 percent market share that year.

For its part, Compaq is fine-tuning its education strategy. The new computers, called the "Academic Series," will come with technology that makes the systems easier to maintain, an enhanced warranty, and designs aimed at the needs of the education market.

The Deskpro Academic EN Series comes in a smaller design than standard PCs so it takes up less space than regular PCs. The system comes with a 400-MHz Intel Pentium II processor, 64 MB of memory, a CD-ROM drive, and is priced at $1,499 for a system with 15-inch monitor.

The company also said it is offering the Armada Academic 1750, which has a spill resistant keyboard and shock resistant hard disk drive. The system comes with a 13.3-inch display, a 300 MHz Pentium II processor, 64MB of memory, built-in modem, and is priced at $2,794. These systems are only available to academic buyers.