Apple prices iMacs at US$899 for schools

It's still selling 17-in. model discontinued in '07, but only directly to schools, universities.

Apple Inc. is still selling an US$899 iMac desktop it discontinued in 2007, according to a recent newsletter released by the company. But that 17-in. model is only available to schools and colleges directly from Apple.

The March issue of Apple's "eNews for Education" newsletter touts the recently-refreshed 20- and 24-in. iMacs, but also notes that it still has a supply of 17-in. iMacs. "The new 20-inch and 24-inch iMac deliver a 30% larger display, twice the memory, and twice the storage," the newsletter reads. "The iMac line also includes a 17-inch model starting at $899."

Apple discontinued the 17-in. iMac -- which featured a white plastic casing -- when it revamped the desktop line in August 2007 by tweaking the design for a sleeker aluminum look.

The lowest retail price for a 17-in. iMac was $999, a price it introduced in the fall of 2006 during an earlier update to the line-up.

One authorized Apple reseller noted that it has difficulty competing with Apple on sales to educational institutions, simply because Apple sells to schools or colleges directly at discounts that resellers can't match.

"We try to be competitive," said Maiya Kennedy, a spokeswoman for PowerMax, the online arm of reseller Portland, Ore.-based Computer Stores Northwest Inc. "But it's difficult because our margins are already really low."

The 17-in. iMac is not available to resellers, said Kennedy, meaning that the $899 system can be purchased by institutions only direct from Apple. PowerMax's lowest price for K-12 and college students and teachers is a 20-in iMac for $999. "It's new, just a previous generation," she said, referring to a model superseded by the refresh three weeks ago.

The lowest price at Apple's educational online store for that same "previous generation" 20-in. iMac is $949. As with PowerMax's offer, only teachers and students are eligible for that price. The just-refreshed 20-in. iMac, meanwhile, comes with an educational price of $1,149, just $50 under retail.

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