Tech Industry

iMac goes to the Ivy League

Before incoming freshmen at Dartmouth College arrive on campus this fall, the school is asking them to buy Apple's new consumer system.

Before incoming freshmen at Dartmouth College arrive on campus this fall, the school is asking them to purchase Apple Computer's new iMac computer.

Approximately 1,110 students received a letter from Dartmouth recommending that they buy the $1,299 desktop, which features a built-in monitor in a two-tone, translucent case. At Dartmouth, a computer is an entrance requirement.

Dartmouth said it has historically favored the use of Macs, but the recommendation stands out as an important symbolic victory for Apple, which has seen its market share in the education market slide below 30 percent in recent surveys. Education has long been one of the Cupertino, California, company's strongholds.

Universities have been increasingly turning to Microsoft and Intel for their high technology needs, in part due to the financial largesse of these PC industry giants. In March, the software vendor sealed a $6 million agreement with Indiana University to offer its suite of products to the college's 100,000 students and staff. The university had been expected to spend up to $20 million on products through various separate contracts.

Separately, in June of 1997, Yale University told incoming freshmen that they were "strongly encouraged" to select a Windows PC and that the Ivy League university couldn't guarantee support for Macintoshes beyond June 2000, sparking a huge outcry from Mac fans on campus. That recommendation was revised in December 1997 to a more reserved statement that deleted any specific platform recommendations.

Recently, Yale even began offering students the ability to buy discounted Mac systems directly from Apple.

Along with Dartmouth's advocacy of the iMac and Yale's apparent change of attitude come more tangible signs that things are looking up for Apple in 1998.

During the most recently completed quarter, Apple said it posted a 39 percent increase in unit sales to the education market, and expects another surge in the next quarter as it readies the iMac's launch on August 15. Education sales contributed about 20 percent of Apple's revenue in a quarter in which it posted a $101 million profit, officials have said.