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Mich. iPod deal spurred by Apple lobby?

updated 10:10 am EDT, Wed April 11, 2007

Apple iPod Lobbying

Last week's controversial Michigan iPod proposal may have been in part been influenced by Apple's lobbying money, according to the Detroit Free Press. The paper reports that Democrat state house speaker Andy Dillon and fellow party member Matt Gillard made a trip to California at least partially funded by Apple, which included a trip to the company's Cupertino offices for an iPod and Mac technology demonstration for education. While the details of the talk between Apple and state Democrats remain unknown, the visit reportedly inspired Dillon and Gillard to back a $36 mllion deal that would have iPods and similar devices supplied to every Michigan student to help store class lectures.

Dillon and Gillard separately defended the trip, saying that they were part of a larger expedition and that the stop at Apple's headquarters was part of a larger itinerary that included talks on business taxes and wine distribution. They also acknowledged that the impending $600 million budget deficit for the state was the most important, but were adamant that an influx of technology on some level was crucial to the long-term welfare of the region.

"As we move to the technology age and the knowledge-based economy, it would be irresponsible to separate technology from our K-12 system," Dillon told journalists.

A spokesman for Dillon also pointed to a certain level of hypocrisy in rival politicians' accusations of unfair lobbying, pointing out that many politicians (including Republicans) made similar visits to other companies in the past. The spokesman for Republican house leader Craig DeRoche was quick to argue, however, that few of these expeditions resulted in such major spending initiatives as for the iPod deal.

Apple representative Susan Lundgren said the company's lobbyist in the state capital was unable to comment when contacted by the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday.

by MacNN Staff




  1. jpellino

    Joined: Dec 1969


    you must be new here...

    ...and by new I mean to the education world. Textbooks and their corrolary materials are sold by big companies wooing the big states for statewide adoptions, funding dinners, conferences, trips and more to get the attention of adminstrators. This is nothing new, but it involves Apple and republicans, so it becomes news.

  1. Bennyboy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I still don't like it

    I didn't like it when Dell and Microsoft did it, so it would be hypocrytical of me to say it's ok for Apple to do the same thing.

  1. BlueDjinn01

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Already Debunked.

    This has already been debunked.

    It's a short article, but it gets straight to the point:

    Democrats talked about bringing technology to education during a press conference with House Speaker Andy Dillon last week. In that discussion, the idea of buying iPods or mp3 players for students came up.

    But quickly, the question "How can the state afford to buy iPods for students when there isn't enough money to go around right now?" was asked.

    In reality, there was never a plan to buy all students iPods. There is a $38 million line item to pay for technology, far less than it would take to buy mp3 players for 1.65 million students."

    Let's take a look at that last sentence. $38 million divided by 1.65 million students = $23 apiece. Even assuming that the entire $38 million went towards nothing but iPods (as opposed to other technology purchases), even the lowest-priced iPod (the Shuffle) costs $79 apiece. Granted, Apple would certainly give a large bulk purchase discount, but I can't imagine that they would've cut the price by over 70% on hardware (software is different, of course).

    Of course, once the meme gets into the public eye, it becomes ideal fodder for the the media to rip into, true or not.

    The Democratic leadership evidently DIDN'T propose to buy $36 million (or was it $38 million? The Free Press somehow lost $2 million between the first story and the second one...) worth of Apple products.

    My guess is that it actually played out something like this:

    "Hey, I read something about Duke University running a test program where they gave iPods to every student to record & listen to lectures, language classes, that sort of thing...what about putting some money towards that?"

    "Nah, for one thing, the results at Duke are still inconclusive; besides, thanks to the Republicans cutting the SBT without anything to replace it, we don't have enough money in the budget to buy a friggin' SONG off of iTunes, much less a whole iPod. Forget about it.

    "Yeah, I guess you're right. OK, what other technology initiatives are worth looking at?"

    The larger point? DISCUSSING an idea (even if it's a bad one) is hardly the same thing as making that idea part of a FORMAL PROPOSAL, and the Free Press ought to know better.

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