For the third year in a row, Apple today kicked off its annual back-to-school promotion, offering rebates of up to $199 toward the purchase of an iPod Touch or another iPod when bought with a qualifying Mac.
The promotion, which runs through Sept. 7, gives students, teachers, staff members and parents rebates of between $79 and $199 for an iPod Touch, iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle or iPod Classic purchased at the same time as an iMac, Mac Pro, MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. The Mac Mini doesn't qualify.
Apple's $199 maximum rebate is enough to cover the price of the low-end 8GB iPod Touch. Apple also sells the iPhone look-alike in 16GB and 32GB configurations for $299 and $399, respectively.
The promotion is essentially a rerun of the refunds the company has offered the last two summers. When it debuted the deal in early June 2008, Apple gave rebates of up to $299 for an iPod Touch; last year the top-end rebate was $229.
Apple's iPod Touch continues to be a success story. According to Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's chief financial officer, iPod Touch sales grew 63% in the first quarter of 2010 compared to the year before.
"The strong mix of iPod Touch resulted in overall iPod revenue growth of 12%, the strongest iPod revenue growth rate in the last two years," Oppenheimer said in an earnings call with Wall Street analysts last month.
In the same April call with financial experts, Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer, said: "There was nothing obvious in the [first quarter] iPod number or the Mac number to suggest cannibalization." Although Apple didn't start shipping the iPad until April 3 -- in other words, during the year's second quarter -- it had announced the media tablet in January and began taking pre-orders in March.
"There is an obvious announcing and people know it is coming and it is starting to sell," Cook said last month of the iPad. "So that part of the [cannibalization] equation we don't know yet. We will find out."
The regular student and educator discounts for Mac purchases also apply during the three-month promotion. Those discounts range from $50 on the entry-level MacBook and $100 on three of the four iMac models, to $300 on an eight-core Mac Pro system.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.