Despite HP's "preferred" status, Maine schools stick with Apple

Despite HP's status as the "preferred" vendor for the state of Maine's massive Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI), the program is largely sticking with Apple for now, according to an Electronista report.

A statement from the MLTI offices reveals that of more than 69,000 machines, only 5,474 will be the preferred Windows laptops. More than 92 percent of state schools are staying with Apple, the majority of which are turning to iPads. 39,457 students and educators in the MLTI are using iPads for the first time. What's more, teachers in schools that chose the iPad also get a MacBook Air to use over the four-year contract. 24,128 students and teachers will remain with the MacBook Air exclusively.

The MLTI has broken ground as one of the first major modern initiatives to get computers in classrooms. Since 2002 MLTI has put iBooks, then later MacBooks and MacBook Airs into the hands of Maine schoolkids. Apple has written{.nofollow} about Maine's effort.

Apple's dominion over Maine schools looked like it would change in April when the Maine Governor's office announced that the MLTI's new preferred vendor was Hewlett-Packard - specifically, the HP ProBook 4440 running Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system. HP offered the state the ProBook for $286 per year per seat, compared to Apple's MacBook Air, which costs Maine schools $319 per year per seat.

The state stopped short of making the HP ProBook a mandate, however, indicating that they'd reimburse middle schools for computers up to the price of the ProBook, leaving it up to them to choose from one of five vendors, including Apple. Middle schools are currently the only place that Maine requires students to use computers, though teachers from grades 7-12 also have to have them. High schools can leverage the state's buying power to outfit their students with computers, and many do.

iPads have been popular in education, with almost 10 million of them used in classrooms, according to Apple's count. And they're a good bottom line value for the state of Maine, too: iPads cost the state $266 per seat per year, beating even HP's bargain-basement laptop.

Peter Cohen