Apple’s $100 Back To School Gift Card Is A Much Worse Deal Than Past Year’s iPod Touch

Apple’s $100 Back To School Gift Card Is A Much Worse Deal Than Past Year’s iPod Touch

If you’re going to school in the fall and were anticipating a free iPod Touch along with your new Mac, prepare to feel ripped.

Instead of their usual Buy A Mac, Get A Free iPod promotion, Apple’s 2011 Back To School promotion is a $100 iTunes gift card redeemable on the iOS App Store, Mac App Store, iBookstore or iTunes Store.

It’s hard to look at this deal as anything but a let down compared to previous offers. Not only was a free iPod Touch worth about twice the $100 gift card Apple’s giving away this year, but Apple will actually reclaim 30% of your Gift Card thanks to their 70/30 developer split.

It’s a markedly worse deal. Instead of giving away a physical, finite product with appreciable value, Apple’s handing out infinite virtual goods. Strangely, Apple might not even lose less money on this deal. Way back in 2009, the average iOS user was paying $80 for apps, and that number’s doubtless only gone up. Add music, iBooks and movies to the mix and Apple may actually make more money on an iPod Touch during its lifetime than the cost of giving one away for free.

Still, what frosh is going to look any gift horse past the uvula? Cash in on the deal here.

  • bplano

    Yeah, this promotion blows.

  • trrosen

    Brownlee you are such a douche.

  • An

    Very true. I, too, don’t like it.

  • Guest

    Free xBox or free gift card, free xBox or free gift card?

    Agree.  It sucks this year.  Part of the fun was going to the Apple store and picking up a iPod along with your mac purchase.  Now its like, well we’ll /give/ you a $100 iTunes giftcard.   its not the same experience.

    Free stuff is free stuff, which is always good, but its not near as good as in the past or what others are doing.  It just feels “cheap” this year.  Especially after Microsoft giving a free xBox ($200 value) to any pc purchase of $700 (I believe?) and higher.

  • Paul F

    Given that you’re still getting a free $100 gift card, it’s hard to complain too much. Also, $100 in iTunes purchases will last one much longer than the actual iPod. After all, once that iPod is ‘obsolete’ (to borrow the term that Cult of Mac writers love to misuse anytime a new Apple product comes out) those apps, books, movies, and music will transfer to the new hardware. This is especially true regarding apps since future updates are built into the purchase price.

  • CharliK

    What blows is the lame sense of entitlement. 

    Apple doesn’t owe you anything. At no point did they ever say they would keep doing the free ipods or anything else. 

    They are at a point when they don’t need gimmicks to get the students. The Mac Book Air sales proved that. Most of them, especially the 11 inch, were education discounted sales. With no ipod offer out there. 

    Plus they don’t have the overstock to sell out because of the earthquake and they have probably seen the huge spike in ebay etc sales during the BtS. Why give away something for free and then have it used to make a profit. Not cool. 

  • guest

    I actually prefer this deal since I think most of us have ipods and or iphones now anyways and I’d rather pick up an app I need than an ipod I don’t.

  • Chris Malone

    That’s funny, Ed.

  • Victor Bard

    And Microsoft is giving away a free XBOX with any Windows PC purchase. You would have thought Apple would have upped the perks with their promotions. As a college student, I waited all year for the free iPod Touch promo. I’m truly disappointed. I won’t be buying a new Mac this summer because of this. 

  • brownlee

    Here’s a Google search for the word “obsolete” in Cult of Mac posts. I’m having a hard time finding ANY example of us having used it to describe a device that Apple itself hasn’t branded as obsolete. If we do, it’s hardly common, yet you make like we have multiple orgasms at just the thought of declaring last year’s iPod a piece of junk. Could we couch the hyperbole, please?

    http://www.google.com/search?s

  • Adam John Brewer

    Agreed wholeheartedly. Apple never promises to do ANY sort of back to school promotion and they don’t owe anyone anything. This speaks to Apple’s strength in the laptop market when they knew what Microsoft was doing and came back with this anyway.

  • brandonmartinez

    I agree with most of the commenters on here: $100 gift card is good enough. Some points (some borrowed):

    1.) well thought-out app purchases are longer lasting than an iPod (and can be transferred to up to five of them). (via Paul F)
    2.) many people already have an iOS device (via guest)
    3.) A sense of entitlement? They already give discounts on Macs for students, and now they’re giving money back to spend on apps that could be used for school. (via lucascott)
    4.) it’s genius of Apple’s marketing: get buyers used to and hooked on buying apps
    5.) it’s about the apps, man!

    Also, the idea that Apple gets that money back is kind of crazy. Sure, they get 30% of a purchase; so in reality, they’re “giving away” only $70, but I thought that 30% was to pay for hosting the apps, and etc. So really, it’s still a cost to them.

    Not that I have any room to talk, or any knowledgable background to complain, but I haven’t been too impressed with John’s articles as of late. He tends to sound whiny, opposed to actually “reporting” (e.g. “It’s a markedly worse deal. Instead of giving away a physical, finite product with appreciable value, Apple’s handing out infinite virtual goods.”). But maybe I’m looking at this wrong, maybe this is just a blog and not a news-source.

  • brandonmartinez

    I agree with most of the commenters on here: $100 gift card is good enough. Some points (some borrowed):

    1.) well thought-out app purchases are longer lasting than an iPod (and can be transferred to up to five of them). (via Paul F)
    2.) many people already have an iOS device (via guest)
    3.) A sense of entitlement? They already give discounts on Macs for students, and now they’re giving money back to spend on apps that could be used for school. (via lucascott)
    4.) it’s genius of Apple’s marketing: get buyers used to and hooked on buying apps
    5.) it’s about the apps, man!

    Also, the idea that Apple gets that money back is kind of crazy. Sure, they get 30% of a purchase; so in reality, they’re “giving away” only $70, but I thought that 30% was to pay for hosting the apps, and etc. So really, it’s still a cost to them.

    Not that I have any room to talk, or any knowledgable background to complain, but I haven’t been too impressed with John’s articles as of late. He tends to sound whiny, opposed to actually “reporting” (e.g. “It’s a markedly worse deal. Instead of giving away a physical, finite product with appreciable value, Apple’s handing out infinite virtual goods.”). But maybe I’m looking at this wrong, maybe this is just a blog and not a news-source.

  • Victor Bard

    You’re crazy! LOL. You could take the brand new iPod Touch they would have given you and sold it on CraigsList or E-Bay for $200+

  • brandonmartinez

    So you’d rather buy a PC because you’re not getting a free iPod?

  • David

    The free Xbox is putrid. Yeah it’s an Xbox but 4GB is NOTHING for a 360. That’s the size of ONE HD movie. Most games have save content that borders the gigs. Most college kids have more then 4 GB of music ALONE. Yea it’s a 360, but it’s not a juicy 360. That deal is just as shafty as this.

  • Aholi

    Im really disappointed. I actually wanted to buy a new macbook air this year and was hoping to get a new ipod touch or at least something worth same as an ipod touch (Maybe $200 off an ipad or at least a $200 gift card). Now I’m really thinking of getting a Samsung Series 9 with the Microsoft free XBox 360 back-to-school offer.

  • brandonmartinez

    So basically, you just want something free? Considering that an XBOX != iPod Touch, you obviously don’t care about the device. Maybe take the money you’re saving in PC repairs and buy the iPod Touch yourself ;)

  • Aholi

    I agree with all the points you mentioned, especially the last one:”it’s about the apps, man!” But why just $100. 

  • brandonmartinez

    Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have $200 to spend :)

    Something to think about is that Apple traditionally used this time to get rid of “old inventory,” because they would have their iPod event in September. As such, maybe they didn’t value those iPods at their normal value, and thus is why they are only giving away $100.

  • Aholi

    The really funny thing is that in europe a macbook air cost €900 and in us $900. But in europe you get a €75 gift card and in us a $100 gift card. I think Apple really messed up this time. Bad Apple!

  • Guest

    This sucks. I have been holding off buying a new MacBookPro for this deal because my iPod is ancient…Couldn’t be more disappointed in Apple for this.  They must be starting to get cheap.

  • Mrbrickross

    We’re glad you aren’t buying a mac, enjoy your piece of crap pc and basic model xbox you’ll be needing to spend $200 getting a hard drive for moron. You are a dick.

  • ZenJ

     You’ve got it right, lucascott. I can’t help but wonder if the manufacturing capacity for touch screens has something to do with this. Let me see. Devote acres and acres of a limited supply of glass to a give-away, or to the production of the gadget wanted by millions who cannot be satisfied by current production of it, the iPad 2.

  • Livestronger

    Can anyone tell me, how do apple know if i’m a collage student, cause i’m going to US this summer, and i’m student but from other country, can i buy Mac using discount and get free gift card?

  • 300AShareMakesMeSmile

    Apple needed to save money in order to rebuild the 5th Avenue Cube store, so they decided to stiff the poor students with some gift card.  It’ll probably drive them to buying some crappy Windows notebook so they can get a free Xbox 360.  Except for the Windows notebook part, that sounds like a great deal.

  • Jonjo

    why do apple always favour minority races in their advertisments

  • David Alexander Harrison

    There’s no entitlement, but people do have a right follow the good deals to buy what they like where they like; so this is definitely Apple shooting itself in the foot as I’m sure there are many people who had been waiting all year to get a new Mac & iPod Touch who are, as we speak, enjoying their new PC & xBox!

  • David Alexander Harrison

    Well, in all fairness, if they had the ready money for a standard MacBook, they can spend that same amount of money to get a decidedly non-crappy PC laptop!

    There may be valid reasons why Macs are more expensive, but that still doesn’t change the fact that in terms of simple hardware specs you can get much more bang for your buck if you buy PC…

    Granted, it’ll most likely not last so long & the OS will need re-installing in a fraction of the time – but that doesn’t change the fact that, at first, the PCs these students are now likely to be buying will run rings around the Macs they were planning on getting.

    This is *really* going to hurt Apple & won’t do the Mac market-share any favours.

  • Kylerjai

    Don’t you also get a pretty decent educational discount on the Mac itself?  I would have like to see a little more in terms of the value of the gift card but I had no desire for a 4th ipod touch.

  • David Alexander Harrison

    The consideration of the availability the screens makes sense – maybe they’re gonna cannibalise all the remaining iPod Touches & iPhone 3GSs to make more iPhone 4s before the iPhone 5 comes out – but that still doesn’t make this promotion any less of a let-down to the consumer.

    Last year Apple offered you something worth ~$200, this year Microsoft is offering you something worth ~$200, but Apple is only offering something worth ~$100 dollars.

    The fact that it’s not an iPod Touch is fair enough, what makes it a bum deal is the fact that they’ve halved the value of the incentive when their business is booming.

    The consumers have no right to *demand* a $200 incentive, but it’s not unreasonable for them to *expect* it, given the circumstances…

  • randall

    I believe they’ll just ask for the school you’re going to, then they’ll require your college email ((sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)) to verify you’re a student.
    Hope college goes well for you here, I’ve met a lot of really great international students. Good luck friend!

  • Livestronger

    Aha hope so, i’ve been last year in Ohio) one student=1 mac? or 2 and more?

  • tonyhue

    Also, most gift cards tend to be unspent in its entirety, as users feel the need to hold back to find the right thing to purchase. With an iPod Touch, people can use it immediately, or sell it on ebay or to a friend. 

  • SavedByTechnology

    This is a win-win for all parties: If used for apps, the customer gets the $100 gift card, the developers get 70% on the sale and Apple gets their 30% cut.  What sucks is that the customers in most states still get hit with a sales tax.

  • huyett

     They know you’re not a college student because you spelled college wrong.  Also, they take your .edu e-mail address as mentioned by Mr. Rhoads

  • Alex

    Apple screwed the pooch on this Back to School Deal!!  Not only are they shortchanging their established customer base of eager young folks entering college wanting an Apple iMac or Macbook, they will also probably fail to entice the Win PC devoted group this year.  Microsoft is giving a way a free XBox360, ($199 value) with it’s own competing Back to School promotion!

  • CharliK

    “There’s no entitlement”

    Sorry but ‘they got it last year and so I should get it too’ IS 100% entitlement

  • LaBianca

    At the very least, it might be nice if they still left the ipod touch option on the table. For those avid Mac users who have received many ipods from BTS they could get the gift card. However, for newbie mac users (like myself), I wanted an ipod touch because i’ve never had one. I had been waiting all year to get this. I’ve just graduated college and now I want to try a mac for med school and I was hoping to get an ipod touch too. I would be a completely new apple person so I don’t see ANY value in apps. But I DO in an ipod.

  • bplano

    This is what I was getting at – give people the option of either. Otherwise, don’t bother and drop the price of the Mac a bit more. Seriously.

  • bplano

    No, we don’t have a right to demand it. But it sure was nice.

    At the same time, Apple keeps 30% of the Mac App Store profits. It’s basically just saying “Let’s get our money back this year!”

    Then again, I don’t know the profit margin of the iPod Touch off the top of my head, but a physical device sure beats a bunch of apps (did I mention some of the most useful ones – the iWork Suite – are $10 a piece? :\ ).

  • Rann Xeroxx

    Ha, I’m a terrible speller and I have a master’s degree :P

  • Rann Xeroxx

    If you need to save money (and what college student doesn’t) then just buy a used mac and put a SD harddrive in it and boosed the mem.  Should do you fine. Heck, I would buy  a few broken ones and piece a good one together but then I work with computers so taking them apart does not scare me.  You can save hundreds of dollars doing this. And if you learn the mac well enough, create a little business in the dorm by buying broke macs and flipping them/repairing them.

    Being in college is a time to try new things and be creative.

  • C Ireland

    Me too. I have a 1st Gen Touch and really wanted to get a new one with a MacBook Air for my wife. It was going to be the icing on the cake for me. Now it’s just a watery sugary glaze and not the tasty icing I wanted. Not so hot to replace her current laptop anymore. You SUCK Apple!!! Why did you have to choose this year to be cheaper than me?

  • Yong

    haha ,they take nothing ,I’m not a students ,I just choose a school and pass through,got the deal.

  • Colton

    Well, honestly, I would rather have the $100 to use for the actual Apple store. Not just the iTunes store. Because then I could use it for a carrying case and something else like it that is WAY more useful than most apps…but hey, $100, whatever.

  • jake

    can someone else use the coupon given the redeem code on the back?

  • Pilar Lara25

    Get your FREE Best Buy gift card here:
    http://freesamplesformoms.com/

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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