Apple's back-to-school deal repeats iPod Touch rebates

Company refunds up to $229 for its answer to netbooks

Apple kicked off its annual back-to-school promotion Wednesday, offering rebates of up to $229 toward the purchase of an iPod Touch or other iPod when bought with a qualifying Mac.

The promotion, which runs through Sept. 8, gives students, teachers, staff members and parents rebates of between $79 and $229 for an iPod Touch, iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle or iPod Classic purchased at the same time as a MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, 20-in. iMac, 24-in. iMac or Mac Pro. The Mac Mini doesn't qualify.

Apple's promotion is essentially a rerun of the deal it debuted last year in early June, when it gave rebates of up to $299 for an iPod Touch to people who bought a Mac at the same time.

The iPod Touch -- the 8GB model sells for $229 -- has been one of Apple's success stories. According to Tim Cook, the company's chief operating officer who is running the company in the absence of CEO Steve Jobs, the iPod Touch has been a "runaway hit." In March, Apple said that it sold 13 million of the devices in 2008. It sold an additional 3.2 million iPod Touches in the first calendar quarter of 2009.

Other iPods eligible for rebates during the promotion include the 120GB Classic, with a rebate of $229; 8GB and 16GB Nanos (rebates of $149 and $199, respectively), and the Shuffle ($79).

For the first time, Apple opened the promotion to parents of college-bound or current college students.

Student and educator discounts will also apply to any Mac purchased during the three-month promotion. Those discounts range from $50 on the lower-priced MacBooks to $300 on a loaded Mac Pro.

Like last year, customers who buy an iPod Touch before Apple rolls out the new iPhone 3.0 software -- the company is expected to announce the availability date June 8 at its annual developer's conference -- will be required to pay $9.95 for the update. Because iPod Touch revenues are realized at the time of sale, not spread over the length of a service contract as are iPhone revenues, Apple must get something in return for additional functionalities to meet accounting rules.

Although some analysts have predicted that Apple will unveil a new tablet-like device this year -- and others have speculated that a so-called "iPod Touch on steroids" won't appear until 2010 -- Jobs and Cook have both dubbed the Touch the company's current answer to netbooks, the ultra-small and ultra-cheap notebooks that run Microsoft's Windows or Linux.

More information about the back-to-school promotion can be found on Apple's site and in a PDF document available for download.

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