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Why the $100 gift card is better than an iPod

This year, Apple isn’t offering an iPod touch with the purchase of a new Mac. Instead, Apple is handing out a $100 gift card, advertising that the extra money is best spent on apps from the Mac App Store. You could argue that a $229 iPod touch is more valuable since you can resell it, but that ends up being a hassle as you have to buy the device upfront, mail in a rebate, and receive a check from Apple at a later date. Some might want the free iPod touch, but you could argue that a majority of senior high and college students already have one (or an iPhone), and wouldn’t benefit from an additional model. Apple no longer needs to make the iPod touch popular. By giving students a $100 gift card instead of offering a physical device, Apple is getting students to invest in the future. While the past decade was primarily about the iPod, this decade’s focus is shifting towards apps and Apple’s iCloud.

Apple is leveraging this year’s Back to School promotion to make the Mac App Store popular. While the credit can be spent in the App Store, iTunes Store, or the iBookstore, Apple wants you to load up your Mac with new software. In a matter of minutes, students can open their Macs, create an Apple ID, and download the entire iWork suite with little effort. Developers should be incredibly happy about this: Apple is giving potential customers money to spend on their applications. I would be coming out of my socks right now if I was the developer of Smartr or iStudiez Pro. This is a huge win-win for everyone involved. By handing out a $100 gift card, Apple accomplishes three things:

  1. Students have the opportunity to load up their Macs with paid software at no cost from the Mac App Store.
  2. Apple is aiding developers in the sales of their apps.
  3. Apple takes a 30% cut of each app downloaded.

By teaching students to purchase apps from the Mac App Store, Apple can lock new customers into their ecosystem, and get people used to the idea that software doesn’t come on a disc. Developers will be getting a lot of exposure during the duration of this program, although I think Apple will benefit again when the iWork suite will likely be the first thing students download. The beauty of handing students $100 worth of credit for apps, music, and books is that Apple will eventually make thirty percent of that credit back if students spend the entirety their cards in the Mac App Store or otherwise. Apple is investing in students to use their products, in developers to develop new apps on the Mac, and in their own ecosystem in one fell swoop. This is a great marketing strategy by Apple.

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