I'm always looking for a bargain. I'm in charge of buying technology for a small, rural school district; I don't spend much time deciding between SLI video options for my students.
That being said, I still just bought a whole slew of Macs for the K-8 schools I support. These computers weren't the cheapest I could have found. I'm saving the seriously cheap PCs and netbooks for some basic word processing and web applications at the high school. The Macs, on the other hand, will be used hard, every day, in schools where my ability to provide support is far more limited (we have one guy running around between all of the elementary schools and one teacher stipended to take care of the middle school computers).
Why did I pay more? Because OS X is a great choice, OS X Leopard Server is a piece of cake for newbs to administer, I had a nice library of software that ran well on OS X, and, most importantly, a new 17" iMac (only available to us educators) fits quite nicely into some very space-constrained environments. Did I mention that these iMacs have built-in wireless and only run a moderate premium over comparable PCs once you add in a 17" LCD? The wireless is important for me since the infrastructure in most of our older schools is dismal; a few well-placed routers and my desktops and laptops are up and running.
On the laptop front, the load of MacBooks we snagged are rugged enough that I'm confident they'll survive third-graders. They're also quite a bit lighter than your average $900 laptop (academic discounts are my friend), making them easy for said third-graders to handle.
So why do I bring this up? Because one of my colleagues over at CNet wrote this little ditty: "Apple needs to bring Mac prices down." Do I wish that Apple would release a very low-cost ultraportable netbook meets MacBook? Of course I do. I'd stand in ridiculous lines at Mac Stores to have one end up in my cargo pants' pocket.
However, as Apple keeps cranking out high-quality, durable, user-friendly, innovative products, I have to remember the words my old economics teacher used to ask: "How much should a company charge for a product?" We would all answer in unison, "As much as the market will bear."
Well, the market seems to be bearing some fairly hefty prices as Apple hits the #3 spot in the States for new PC sales. From an educational perspective, our market can't bear as much as a lot of consumers, but sometimes, what we really can't bear is Windows Vista running on a cheap PC.