A few weeks before the start of the school year, Apple is going on the offensive by asking the Quebec government to change the criteria for its calls for tenders so that more Macs and iPads can be found in classrooms. The strategy aims to retain future consumers, according to specialists.
The American giant has taken steps with Quebec so that the government modifies the calls for tenders relating to laptops and tablets found in schools in the province. The world’s leading tablet vendor wants people to consider the “user experience” a device offers more than price or features like weight and size.
To plead its cause with the Ministries of Education as well as Cybersecurity and Digital, Apple recently hired a lobbyist, Jonathan Kalles, from the firm McMillan Vantage.
The multinational also hopes to be able to meet with representatives of the Secretariat of the Treasury Board and the Center for Government Acquisitions, the organization responsible for calls for tenders for government authorities.
Apple’s representative in this case, Mr. Kalles, did not return the appeals of the To have to. As for him, the Ministry of Education did not want to confirm if he was indeed in discussion with Apple or if changes to the calls for tenders were envisaged.
Apple’s approach does not surprise Jacques Nantel, professor emeritus at HEC Montreal specializing in marketing and product positioning. Access to school networks is a major strategic axis for manufacturers of electronic devices: “Once a consumer, a fortiori a child, has become accustomed to a complex environment, the effort to change it as well as the associated cost are such that this consumer will maintain the status quo. »
In economics, we call “exit barrier” these obstacles encountered by users who want to leave an ecosystem such as a digital platform or an operating system within which they operate. A situation that works in favor of the company that positions itself first with potential consumers.
Mr. Nantel explains: “It’s the same thing as formula manufacturers who give it to mothers who don’t want to or who can’t breastfeed. The milk is given to the hospital. As everything is usually fine, parents will not take the risk of changing supplier once they are home. School is the security deposit, the comforter that makes children and parents love the Apple brand. »
Similar story from Bruno Guglielminetti, spokesperson for the Academy of Digital Transformation (ATN) at Laval University: “Whatever the brand, manufacturers will do a lot of lobbying to ensure access the educational market, because once these young people get used to working with a system or a type of device, they are more likely to become consumers of it. Despite the good intentions of manufacturers in terms of education, it is above all a market development strategy. »
Result: free software, such as Linux, is less present in school networks than major operating systems such as Windows, from Microsoft, and the OS, from Apple.
In recent years, Apple has created a certification program for schools whose educational programs meet certain criteria, such as being part of Apple’s ecosystem. Present in 36 countries, this certification has been awarded to 19 establishments in Canada, including two in Quebec: the CFER (company and recovery training center) in Bellechasse, and the private secondary school Marcelle-Mallet, located in Lévis.
Positioning in the “school market” is all the more important as the presence of IT and technology has increased considerably in recent years. An ATN study published in June 2021 revealed that almost all schools now have an Internet connection in all classrooms.
In 2020, on average, across all schools in the province, there was one digital device available for every two students. In addition, almost 95% of schools provided IT equipment to teachers in 2020, up from 50% in 2014.
“And since then, there has been the pandemic, which has accelerated the digital shift everywhere, including in schools”, specifies Mr. Guglielminetti.
Begun in the spring, Apple’s steps with the government are part of a larger positioning initiative in the Quebec public sector. The Cupertino company also wants to “influence government policies on information technology […] [afin] to facilitate the adoption by public agencies of devices and services provided by Apple”. The stated goal: “to increase the ability of public sector users to purchase Apple products and services,” such as iPads and MacBooks.