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Pressed by falling numbers, Apple adds iPhone and iPad Pro to back-to-school promotion

Gregg Keizer | July 7, 2016
Inclusion of iPad Pro also syncs with Apple's assertion that a tablet-keyboard combo can satisfy the laptop itch

Back-to-school sales are important for technology vendors, including Apple, Milanesi said. Most experts consider the summer promotions as the second-most important season after the end-of-year holidays. "It does matter for PC vendors [in general], but it is also a big deal for Apple," she said. "This is also a difficult [period] for Apple -- June, July and August -- because everyone is waiting for the new iPhone."

Milanesi also implied that the inclusion of the iPad Pro in this year's back-to-school deal fit with Apple's recent arguments that the tablet, when paired with a keyboard, was appropriate to replace a traditional laptop.

While parents may view the laptop as the productivity answer for their children, students are much more likely to lean toward the tablet, Milanesi said. But the generational differences may be moot at this point. "In the past, you couldn't get an iPad [for school and schoolwork] because you needed Office and a keyboard," she said. "That doesn't hold anymore."

Office 365, Microsoft's subscription service, is key to that scenario, for it gives customers the right to run the iOS Office apps on an iPad Pro. Students can piggyback on their parents' subscription -- $100 annually for five users -- purchase the college-specific Office 365 University, a four-year subscription for $80, or in many cases, acquire the apps free of charge through their school's over-arching Office 365 Education plan.

A tablet-keyboard combination is also less expensive than a traditional laptop. A 9.7-in. iPad Pro equipped with Apple's Smart Keyboard costs $728 with the educational discount, or 81% of the lowest-priced 11-in. MacBook Air.

"I'm not saying that the iPad Pro is the solution for everybody," Milanesi said. "Things are so much cheaper on the Windows side," she continued, referring to notebooks powered by Windows 10. "But if you look at the 9.7-in. iPad Pro, it's a very powerful machine. If you are OK with a smaller screen, you're golden. There are no issues from a performance point of view, and in Office, you won't notice a difference."

Apple's promotion covers devices purchased between June 2 and Sept. 5. The deal's terms and conditions can be found on Apple's website.


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