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Google In Your iBook

Charity, it seems, is catching, not to mention competitive. The Maine Department of Education recently struck a deal with Apple Computer to provide iBooks for 36,000 students for $289 apiece as part of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative.
Charity, it seems, is catching, not to mention competitive. The Maine Department of Education recently struck a deal with Apple Computer to provide iBooks for 36,000 students for $289 apiece as part of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative.

The iBooks come with plenty of nifty software. But nothing from Google. So Google, ever committed to organizing the world's information, has decided to donate Google Earth and SketchUp Pro for installation on every public-school computer in the state.Such generosity from Apple and Google is certainly welcome. Public schools are terribly underfunded, and every donation helps.

Still, there's an element of self-interest that comes with gifts of software. I can't help recalling how Microsoft wanted to donate software to settle lawsuits against it, a move Apple saw as harmful.

Is it just too cynical of me to wonder what's in this for Google, or how Google's gift affects competitors like Microsoft? And wouldn't Maine's students be better off with cash?