Apple Peels Back-to-School Discount

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Last summer was the perfect time to be a college student or employee in need of a new computer – because Apple was offering a free iPod Touch if you bought a new Mac laptop or desktop.

It had been that way every summer since 2008. Buying a laptop for as little as $900 (itself $100 off with Apple’s educational discount) netted you a $200 Touch (essentially, an iPhone without the phone).

But this year, Apple has reduced its popular summer college discount to a free $100 iTunes gift card. And the kids are not all right. Comments on tech websites range from “What a load of crap” to “Really sucks, bro.”

One site, Mac Gazette, even wrote an article called “Understanding Exactly How Badly Apple’s $100 Gift Card Offering Sucks.” Besides the discount being only half as valuable as the year before, Mac fans are upset for another reason: Apple is really only parting with $70.

“This is because 30 percent of the cash spent in Apple’s digital stores goes right back to – you guessed it – Apple,” Mac Gazette reports. Indeed, anyone selling music through the App Store must pay Apple a 30-percent commission.

And, of course, an iTunes gift card allows you to only buy music, apps, and software from Apple. Seeing an opportunity, Best Buy has moved in with a back-to-school deal of its own. Reports Mac Rumors

Best Buy will be matching this promotion with a $100 Best Buy gift card for the same qualifying customers. This is an unadvertised promotion, so customers will have to ask for it specifically.

The Best Buy deal mimics Apple on all its details: College students, those going into college this fall, parents of those students, and college employees are eligible if they buy a Mac computer between June 16 and Sept. 20. That covers the MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, and Mac Pro.

But wait, these are both $100 gift cards. So what’s the difference? Well, $100 at Best Buy allows you to purchase anything in the store or online, which includes hardware. So you have more choices with your discount.

Not to be outdone, Microsoft has its own back-to-school special – and it trumps both Apple and Best Buy…

Students buying a new Windows 7-based PC priced at $699 or more will also get a free Xbox 360 4GB console. The offer is available at participating retailers for current students in the U.S. while supplies last.

No word yet from Apple, but it does make you wonder: Next summer, will Apple go back to giving away free hardware?

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