Apple (s aapl) rolled out a new, budget-priced iMac early Monday morning, but it comes with a catch: You have to be an educational institution to get the deal. The $999 iMac also features slightly less impressive specs when compared to its consumer retail siblings. Even powered down, it should be an attractive option, and it’s a good sign that Apple still knows the children are its future.
The budget iMac (which is available only to institutions, not school students or faculty) features a 3.1 GHz dual-core Intel Core i3 processor,(s intc) a 250 GB hard drive and just 2 GB of RAM, along with a 21.5-inch display. It also offers an AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics card (s amd) with 256 MB of memory and only comes with Mini DisplayPort, not Thunderbolt. Apple’s entry-level consumer iMac, by comparison, has a 2.5 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 4 GB of RAM, a 6750M card with 512 MB of memory and a 500 GB hard drive, for only $150 more.
That may not seem like a great savings to some, considering the new education iMac’s considerably reduced specs, but for volume shoppers purchasing 10 or more machines for a computer lab or library, the extra savings will add up quickly. And if the computers are primarily being used for brief sessions made up of less-specialized tasks, the extra muscle in the $1,149 Mac (the standard $1,199 model, after a $50 education discount) isn’t necessary. Apple also still offers an $899 20-inch 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo iMac which uses the previous aluminum and glass body design used on machines before the 21.5- and 27-inch models were introduced.
The introduction of the new iMac shows that Apple is still keen on attracting education customers, which is a great way of getting its product in the hands of students, one of its core demographics. Apple’s attempts to win favor with students also includes the yearly back-to-school deal and special pricing for individual educational customers, which usually knocks at least $50 off the price of any Mac. According to recent research, it’s a combined strategy that’s working very well.