Hidden among the announcements in March 2006 that Apple iBooks were again selected by the state of Maine for MLTI is the fact that Dell was not a contender for the contract. My question is, why not?

According to this March 22, 2006 article from the Portland Press Herald, only two companies actually submitted bids for the State of Maine contract. Apple won the bid, and Dell Computer was not the other contender:

Only two companies submitted bids. The other company was CDW-G, which provides technological services to government, education and health care. CDW-G’s proposal called for Lenova Thinkpads in partnership with other businesses.

Dell is a major laptop vendor for our statewide TxTIP project, providing the laptop hardware on 15 of the 22 immersed middle school campuses. Dell made a lot of news about a year ago (along with the new superintendent of Henrico schools) when it was selected as the vendor to replace laptops at the Henrico County High School. That was April of 2005. Apple was selected for the Middle School contract at Henrico, however, in February 2006.

Mac rumor websites continue to buzz with speculation about an upcoming MacBook laptop expected in May that could replace current iBooks. The release of the MacBook Pro by Apple in January seemed to suggest that another Intel-based laptop missing the “Pro” designation would be released later in the year. Given the annoucement of Apple Boot Camp that permits native booting into WindowsXP from an Intel-chip Macintosh computer as well as the even more exciting availability of Parallels Workstation which permits running of Windows applications within the Mac OS but at native processor speeds, things are getting quite interesting and dynamic in the laptop market.

I am wondering if Dell is going to come out with a new laptop product specifically focused on the education market, similar to the Panasonic Toughbook in durability? I do wonder why on earth Dell was not a bidder for the MLTI contract renewal? Maine is the first state in the U.S. to provide laptops to all middle school students, and if Dell wants to and can compete viably in the K-12 1:1 computing space, it mystifies me why they would not bid for MLTI. Their success in winning a contract for Henrico High School would seem to suggest a desire to compete strongly with Apple in this arena.

Successful implementation and results in a 1:1 educational initiative relies on far more than a vendor delivering hardware at the cheapest price to a school district’s loading dock. As TxTIP renews for 2006-2008 it will be interesting to see if Dell comes out with a new laptop for the education space to compete with the expected new MacBook from Apple.

One thing seems certain: Any new computer products announced by Dell or other PC vendors are not going to be running Macintosh OS X, optionally or otherwise!

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2 Responses to Dell laptops viable for 1:1 projects?

  1. Mike says:

    In my humble opinion, Dell didn’t bid on this project because of the price point. Maine asks for a great deal in it’s Request for Proposals. Beyond the machines, there is a back-up infrastructure, loads of professional development, software requires that a vendor to reach a host of outside deals (ie Word licenses), a complete wireless infrastructure in hundreds of schools, and covering all those batteries etc. for the life of the contract. At roughly $280/year/machine the margin is razor thin.

  2. Wesley Fryer says:

    Your guess is as good as mine, I don’t have any insider knowledge into the mind of Steve Jobs, but based on what I know I don’t think Apple wants to become just a hardware manufacturer. Mac OS X is basically virus-free, and so much snappier than Windows in my experience– a much better multimedia content creation platform. It will definitely be interesting to follow this. My perception is that Apple released Boot Camp not because it wants people to switch their OS to MS Windows or Vista, but because so many hackers were developing programs which provided this functionality. By offering a standard way for people to boot into a Windows OS I am guessing Apple is hoping to provide that option for people so they don’t have to be hacker geeks to get it to work.

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