updated 09:07 pm EDT, Tue April 30, 2013
Long-term exclusive deal with Apple nixed by new deal
Hewlett Packard announced today that it was awarded a four-year hardware and services contract by the Maine Department of Education. The Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) award effectively ends the state's long-running exclusive contract with Apple, which was in place since 2002. The program will ensure each student in the school system is equipped with a computing device, an underpinning of the initiative since it was founded by then-Governor Angus King in 2001.
Seemingly unaware that the state's existing Intel-based Apple computers were recently considered to be one of the best Windows 8 experiences, Maine Governor Paul R. LePage spoke on the contract award, saying that it was "important that our students are using technology that they will see and use in the workplace. The laptops use an operating system that is commonly used in the workplace in Maine. This is the lowest-priced proposal, and these laptops will provide students with the opportunity to enhance their learning and give them experience on the same technology and software they will see in their future careers."
Apple's primary proposal provided a 13-inch MacBook Air and an iPad mini to each teacher in grades 7-12. Students in grades 7 and 8 (and other opt-in grades) would receive an iPad with Retina display for a $217 cost per seat per year. Apple's alternative offer came in at $273 per seat, per year. Students were slated to receive an 11-inch MacBook Air, with teachers getting a 13-inch MacBook Air. Both proposals also required a $49 per year per-seat charge for wireless network maintenance and repairs.
The winning Hewlett Packard proposal put forth a $254.86 per-seat per-year deal. Teachers and students would receive a Windows 8 Hewlett Packard 4440S laptop with a dual-core 1.9GHz Celeron equipped with 2GB of RAM, and a 14-inch display running at 1366x768 resolution. HP would subcontract networking to BlackBox, with a similar per-head charge for wireless network management as Apple's proposals.
The last unit Apple provided to the state was the plastic-housed MacBook at an estimated cost to the state of $700 per unit. Deployment III units distributed in Maine from 2009 through this year were a 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo model with a 120GB hard drive, and 2GB of RAM.
Governor LePage added that middle schools would be able to choose any of the proposals made to the state, and the state would cover the cost up to the amount of the equivalent HP proposal. At the high school level, where districts pay for the devices themselves with the support of state targeted technology funds, the state will leverage its buying power to get the lowest price possible on any of the solutions.
Other school districts switching away from Apple solutions have reported dramatic increases in service and repair costs, which in most cases, exceed any cost savings from shifting hardware providers. Apple provided unusually-long four-year AppleCare warranties on provided equipment under the Maine school deal. HP is providing "a development specialist, instructional workshops, technical workshops and an active portal that will be a one-stop shop for all professional development resources for any educator in the state."
Existing MacBook computers may be purchased for $47 per unit by the schools that have them in hand assuming all of the units in the school are purchased. AppleCare for all units, regardless of original deployment or purchase date, expires on June 30. Computers that have not been retained by the assigned schools will be sent to the state of Maine's surplus system for sale to the general public after a period of exclusivity by other state governmental agencies seeking the machines.