Apple cuts price of .Mac for schools

Apple Computer on Tuesday unveiled a discounted version of its .Mac suite of online services for the education market. But analysts say the Cupertino, Calif.-based company is charging too much for the service, particularly for cash-strapped schools.

"Given that there are already indications that education spending is down, which tends to follow the economy by about a year, there's a heightened price sensitivity in education," said IDC Roger Kay. He noted that school budgets follow the tax collections, which were down last year in many places because of tough economic conditions.

In July, Apple announced it would eliminate its iTools suite of free Web services and replace them with .Mac. Existing iTools customers have until Oct. 14 to take advantage of a $49 promotion for the first year of .Mac. The .Mac for education program also attempts to give schools a break on the regular $99 price.

Under terms of deal, education customers signing up for .Mac would pay $59 a year and the services are slightly reduced. For example, online storage that is half the normal account. Education customers also must buy a minimum 10 licenses to qualify for the discount.

"Our goal is to provide a cost-effective solution for educators that meets the needs of the classroom," an Apple spokesman said. "This price is a substantial discount, and we've made it easy to purchase in purchase orders and volume licenses."

But for some schools the price could still be too high, particularly when Apple's online services were previously available for free.

News source: C|net

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