Apple puts on back-to-school full court press

Apple has always been a big player in the education market and this year it appears to be grabbing more share by selling Macs with iPod discounts among other moves.Let's connect a few dots:AppleInsider reports that RBC analyst Mike Abramsky is projecting that Apple will ship 3.

Apple has always been a big player in the education market and this year it appears to be grabbing more share by selling Macs with iPod discounts among other moves.

Let's connect a few dots:

From 6/3 to 9/15 Apple is running a promotion for a full rebate for an iPod touch ($299) or nano if purchased with a qualifying Mac using an education discount. In previous years, Apple has offered a rebate on iPods up to $199. Given its aggressive nature, we believe this promotion will be a more significant driver of Mac and iPod sales in the Sept. quarter than it has been in the past. And while the $299 rebate will negatively impact margins, Apple adequately communicated this change during the last earnings conference call. Specifically, the company guided GM to 31.5% in Sept. and "about 30%" in FY09 despite a strong GM of 35% in the June quarter. We believe this guidance was partially due to the promotion. We also believe it was due to management's indication of a "product transition" that likely involves lower-priced Macs and iPods which we expect to be released at a Sept. event that has not yet been announced.

Add it up and it appears that Apple is using back-to-school season to grab share, woo another round of future users and wipe out inventory before it launches new products. It's safe to say that Apple lowballed guidance for the September quarter--again.

Also see ZDNet Education: MacBooks - to deploy or not to deploy, part 1

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