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I.B.M., Apple Launch Offensives In War for Precollegiate Market

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Launching new offensives in their war over the education market, Apple Computer Inc. and the International Business Machines Corporation have unveiled marketing strategies and products designed to appeal to precollegiate educators.

Earlier this month, i.b.m., which hopes to challenge Apple's position as the dominant manufacturer of computers for the school market, announced the introduction of a new microcomputer, the Model 25 286, aimed directly at teachers and administrators.

And Apple, in a videotape distributed this month to thousands of educators nationwide, announced that it plans to offer an inexpensive Macintosh computer with a color monitor to the school market during the 1990-91 school year.

Ibm argues that its new machine--which carries a list price of $2,995, but which is available at a discount to educators--is flexible enough to be used as a computer workstation, as part of a local network, or in "a classroom multimedia educational system."

Both Apple and ibm have touted multimedia applications--the fusing of graphics, sound, data processing, and video through a computer link--as the most promising future use of computers in the classroom. (See Education Week, March 29, 1989.)

In a interview earlier this year, James E. Dezell, the general manager of ibm's Educational Systems division, said the company views the technology as an integral element in the restructuring of schools, both as a tool to help teachers and as a learning resource geared to media-savvy students.

"We have to provide courseware that is dramatically compelling to children, as compelling to children as MTV," he said.

Macintosh Discounts

In the meantime, Apple has distributed a videotape in which its chairman, John Sculley, promises4that the company's new machine will be able to run programs developed for the aging inventory of Apple II computers that make up the bulk of the micocomputers in precollegiate institutions.

Educators frequently point out that most schools cannot afford to take advantage of Apple's HyperCard programming language, which Apple promotes as ideally suited to developing multimedia instructional applications, because it can only be run on a Macintosh with expanded memory.

Mr. Sculley says, however, that "our product-development efforts have shifted toward the lower end of the Macintosh line."

As a further incentive to educators who might be contemplating an upgrading of their computer sytems, Apple last week announced educational discounts on Macintosh computers.

Sandra Bateman, Apple's manager for the K-12 market, said the company's policy forbids discussion of specific prices.

But a source within the company said a complex discount program, which will remain in effect until the new, "entry level" Macintoshs are introduced, will slash the price of at least one existing model, the Macintosh Plus, to less than half the current suggested retail price. Similar discounts will be available on other Macintosh models, the source said.

The introduction of the new policy is timed, the source said, to appease school buyers, who traditionally make their purchases at the end of the school year. School buyers had complained that they were slighted by Apple's previous policy of offering discounts at the end of the calendar year.

Apple, which has it roots in educational applications of microcomputers, has long dominated the school market with its Apple II line.

In recent years, however, ibm, which had suffered under the perception that it ignored the school market, has begun to court educators through its Educational Systems division.

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