Missing the Point- Back to School Promotions and Video Mirroring

I’ve been reading quite a bit about two recent Apple news items, and I can’t help to feel that the tech blogs are missing the point.

First, here in the United States, Apple has (recently) offered a “back-to-school” special of giving a free iPod Touch to a student when they buy a Mac. Earlier in the year, there was a rumor (seemingly from Boy Genius Report) that the back-to-school special in 2011 would feature a free iPod Touch ($229) or $200 towards the purchase of an iPad. This never materialized, as Apple recently announced that they would give a $100 Apple Software gift card with the purchase of a Mac for the back-to-school special. This has caused a lot of complaining on the part of the tech blogs, and even today one blog (Cult of Mac) announced that Best Buy would give a $100 gift card with the purchase of a Mac.

Honestly, I’m a little disappointed with the promotion, too, as we’re looking at a MacBook refresh (probably with MacBook Airs) at our house about this time next year. We have two boys who love their iPod Touches, and it goes to figure that at least one of them will need a new iPod, and another might need an iPad for school. So the ability to get a free iPod or $200 off an iPad sounded good.

Nonetheless, Apple offers a discount price on Macs through the education store to begin with (Best Buy does not), and chances are there are a number of Apps the average user will want to buy, such as Pages, Numbers, and Keynote through the Mac App Store (A total of $45 for these apps), leaving $55 on the gift card for other apps. Sure, the card only costs Apple $70, when a year earlier, they were giving away an iPod touch valued at $197 for free. But the old 8GB iPod Touch was always a throwback to the previous generation, and the new 8GB iPod Touch has the same internals (including cameras) as its bigger siblings. I always tell parents and students that if they are (currently) going to buy an iPod Touch, they should buy the 32GB version for $299 instead of the 8GB version of $229. My guess is that the new iPod Touch doesn’t have the profit margin it once did.

On a similar note, the iPad seems to be at a critical price point. All of the competitors (including the Samsung Tab 10.1, which was released yesterday) are aiming for that $499 price point–but are not beating it. This lets you know that Apple really did make the iPad ultra-competitive on price. This probably means little margin to offer a $200 promo for the device.

As technology advances, I bet we will see a “buy a Mac, get an iPad free” campaign–but for now, those prices (particularly the memory on the devices) need to drop.

I also wonder if the majority of students buying Macs already had an iPod Touch and simply weren’t motivated by that promotion, and only families like ours, buying Macs from the education store, were looking forward to it?

(By the way, we really want to see a MacBook Air with a backlit keyboard. We probably would have already bought MacBook Airs if that feature was available).

As for iOS5 and Video Mirroring, all the blog chatter is about the use of the iPad’s mirroring function for gaming. I might be missing the point here, but a 9.7 inch tablet is not the ideal platform for gaming. This is where a 5 inch or 7 inch tablet might excel. The whole point of wireless mirroring is for professional use–Keynote presentations, teachers, doctors, businessmen. People that don’t want to have to hook up a cord to be able to show their device on a TV or a projector. As I’ve previously mentioned, Apple still needs to release an AirPlay receiver that isn’t HDMI-only (or someone needs to license that technology and make it available), and the cheaper, the better. Want to see wide-spread adoption of the iPad in education? Make AirPlay inexpensive. There will certainly need to be some details worked out with AirPlay and education (e.g. is there a way to allow students in the class to display through the same device, taking turns, while the teacher remains in control?), but the future is bright. Video mirroring is a feature that will change professional fields–I doubt it will have the impact on gaming that the tech blogs are so excited about.


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