Apple close to winning 60,000 laptop deal in Atlanta

I’m in Orlando at FETC. Apple has a decent-sized booth here, and I spoke to one of the senior people at the booth.

According to the source, Apple is very close to winning a deal with Cobb County in Atlanta, which has been negotiating with Apple, IBM, and Dell.

My source said that Apple and IBM were the finalists … meaning that Dell has dropped out. Interesting! A wrinkle is that this pits Apple and IBM – much more allies than enemies lately – on different sides of the fence.

This article (free subscription) at the Atlanta Journal Constitution confirms some of the facts. Cobb County is the second largest disctrict in Georgia, and among the 30 largest in the US.

According to the AJC article, price is a huge issue.

Earlier this month, Dillon said the companies’ proposals would cost too much for a deal to be made. The proposals have not been made public, although system officials have made no secret of their desire to pay $275 per machine ? the same cost as in Michigan’s recent laptop contract with Hewlett-Packard.

It’s worth noting that Michigan’s deal is mostly a farce now, with funds drying up, legal, political, and publicity problems rampant. Still, the price point is problematic for both IBM and Apple.

Time is short; as the AJC also reports:

Cobb’s undertaking, if approved, would be one of the largest laptop programs in the country. Dillon said that if negotiations work out, school board members could see a final proposal as soon as their Feb. 9 meeting.