An analysis reveals that Maine overpaid for a costly iPad contract

Maine-iPadIn the winter and spring of 2013, the state of Maine and the Los Angeles Unified School District were both shopping for computing devices to put in the hands of their students and teachers.

When each finished its negotiations with computer maker Apple, Los Angeles wound up with a much better deal than Maine, even though the contracts were for exactly the same device and a similar number of users. Los Angeles got a 43 percent discount off retail prices. Maine’s discount was only 14 percent.

“Maine grossly overpaid for these devices,” says Stan Smith, owner of The MacSmith, the Falmouth-based business consultancy for Apple users that undertook a detailed comparative analysis of the contracts because he believes the state officials running Maine’s program have too close a relationship with Apple. State officials, when presented with Smith’s calculations, did not dispute them.

Nearly 40,000 Maine public school students and teachers are using iPads purchased under a contract negotiated last year by the Department of Education’s Maine Learning Technology Initiative, known as the “laptops in schools program.” The program provides devices to all seventh- and eighth-graders in the state and negotiates bulk price contracts for high schools that choose to participate at their own expense.

(Next page: Maine’s iPad program review)