The massive order stems from the state Department of Education's decision to expand the Maine Learning Technology Initiative into all public high schools. Maine has been providing Apple MacBooks to middle school students and faculty under the MLTI since 2002. Apple had to compete with other computer makers for the first and the latest contracts, the state said.
Maine plans to order an additional 7,000 MacBooks in the coming weeks. It is the only state to provide laptops to every public school student.
"We have seen incredible success with our middle schools showing increased student engagement and achievement with MLTI in place and we want to bring this same opportunity to our high schools," state Education Commissioner Sue Gendron said in a statement. "This is not just about technology -- it's about using the technology to support education."
Financial terms were not disclosed, but the contract includes Apple's iLife and iWorksuites of applications. In addition, Apple will provide educational software, training, repair and replacement and technical support.
About 2,000 public high school students in Maine attend schools with laptops. As a result of the latest deal, that number is expected to grow to between 22,000 and 28,000 in the fall. "This expansion is helping Maine close the digital divide," Jeff Mao, director of learning technology for the Education Department, said.
Schools have long been an important market for Apple, which has always been a minor player in the corporate market dominated by Microsoft Windows PCs. Getting Apple MacBooks in the hands of students through schools helps in building a future customer base.
Apple offers a number incentives to students in educations. Besides ongoing discounts on computer purchases, the company is offering an iPod Touch at no additial charge to students and teacher who buy a Mac. The offer ends Sept. 8.
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