Saturday, December 6, 2008

Apple Netbook in 2009 for $599???

Apple Insider recently published on article about the possibility of a Apple, Inc offering a netbook laptop at the $599 price point. The article cited many reasons why this would be a good step for Apple. More interestingly, the comments on this article were mostly negative. For example, commenter "ipodrulz" wrote:
I would hate it if Apple released anything below 900$. It just makes the Apple brand look cheap, and crappy. And it allows all these other people to be carrying around a fruit logo when they shouldn't be. In the end Apple will just dilute their brand. Please Steve Jobs - don't do it!
Understandably, Apple has a reputation for high quality products with a software package that is more robust than other vendors. The disadvantage is that it all comes with a higher price point. The higher price point negatively affects the education market.

The school that I work in, and thousands more, are iMac based. Every teacher has an iMac on their desk and our 2 computer labs contain 32 iMacs each. However, it would be outlandishly expensive to provide a compatible computer for each student to use during the day. Currrenlty, iMacs are priced at $1299. In addition, entry level MacBooks are price at $999. There are special deals for education and purchasing in bulk saves money, but these discounts still would not put a one-to-one initiative in our reach.

One option would be a netbook from a different vender such as Asus. This is not a good a option. Students would be working on these but the work would not be compatible with our Apple network. In addition, it would be all done on a local user account. This means that sharing laptops between classes would be extremely difficult.

Let's talk about cloud computing. Our students could use Google Docs for their Microsoft Office needs (writing, presenting) but this still leaves a network issue. Our students, using a non-networked computer don't have accountablity for what they are doing a laptop. To make this a viable solution, we need to create a new student network on whatever operating system the laptops are for.

Now, back to the netbook option from Apple. It uses the same network logins and passwords that already exist. Everything they do is stored on their network account and can be worked on at any workstation. There is also the security issue. Students are responsible for what is on their account. If they are looking at myspace on the laptop, there is a record of it.

As a middle school teacher, I'd love to have each of students working on a netbook that doesn't require any extra work for them to know what to do, even if it dosn't do everything an iMac or MacBook does.

And, Mr. Jobs, if your reading: I'll gladly volunteer my classes of 7th and 8th graders to test pilot your new netbook. I'd call it MacBook Mini. I'd also like to see a MacBook Touch, bu that is a whole different blog post.

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