updated 06:15 pm EDT, Wed June 15, 2011
Offers $100 gift card good for apps, media
[Updated with photos] A photo has confirmed the exact kick-off of Apple's annual Back to School promotion as being tomorrow -- Thursday, June 16th -- and running through September 20th, along with other details (an earlier story had listed the promotion as beginning today). Confirming earlier reports, the report notes that instead of the usual iPod Touch "free after rebate" offer, Apple will instead give buyers a $100 gift card suitable for anything from the various iTunes stores, including apps, e-books, music or video.
The shift is likely part of Apple's strategy to encourage customers to use the Mac App Store and the iTunes stores to do more of their software buying, which fits in with reports that the stores will be reducing their "software wall" inventories.
While the free $100 gift card is not as valuable, in absolute terms, as an iPod Touch, customers may be happier with an on-the-spot premium they can use immediately rather than having to wait several weeks for a rebate check to arrive. The gift card is also more versatile than the iPod Touch, which some recipients turned around and re-sold if they didn't want or need it. The "value" of a free iPod Touch may also have been ironically diminished by the device's incredible popularity, with a high percentage of students now likely to already own one, making it less desirable as a premium.
Apple watchers have complained about the seeming reduction in the benefit of the Back to School promotion, but the perspective of the general public may be different -- a free gift is still a free gift, and the instant gratification of a gift card can be psychologically more valuable, akin to the way lottery winners often opt for a reduced lump-sum payout rather than regular installments of prize money spread out over time. [via MacRumors]