Apple Skimps on Back-to-School Giveaway

Last Updated Jun 16, 2011 9:30 AM EDT

In years past, Apple's famous back-to-school promotion has featured a free iPod with the purchase of a Mac -- a deal worth about $200 or more. My brother, an entering junior in college, got an 8GB iPod Touch last summer with his Macbook purchase, and is the envy of all non-student I.D.-holding family and friends.

But this year, Apple isn't being so generous: College-bound Mac buyers get only a $100 gift card to the iTunes store, according to this picture on MacRumors.com.

Shockingly, this year's Apple promotion pales in comparison to rival Microsoft's back-to-school giveaway, which includes a free 4GB Xbox 360 with the purchase of Windows 7 PC, such as the Dell Inspiron 14r or the Samsung Series 9. That's a nearly $300 freebie!
I know; we're spoiled. But what gives? Apple had nearly $25 billion in sales last quarter. While iPods wouldn't have been the hottest freebie (since they've pretty much saturated the market), this gift card doesn't even allow students to shop for gadgets at the Apple store; the iTunes gift card can only be used on apps, music, movies and other media.

I'm not an analyst, but I feel like this is a missed opportunity for the tech giant. Just think of how many more iPads, iPhones and other bigger-ticket items the company might have sold had it offered a gift card that drew students into its stores. And let's not forget: College students are early technology adopters. That alone should be an incentive for Apple to sweeten the deal.

More on MoneyWatch: image source: dkalo's photostream on Flickr
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    Farnoosh Torabi is a personal finance journalist and commentator. She is the author of the new book Psych Yourself Rich, Get the Mindset and Discipline You Need to Build Your Financial Life. Follow her at www.farnoosh.tv and on Twitter at @farnoosh.

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