Want a free/paid for by the government iPhone/iPod Touch? Enroll at Missouri University School of Journalism

by Mike
Posted May 8th, 2009 at 11:27 am

The iPhone though nearing 3 years old without any radical physical changes (yet) has turned many non-apple users into fanboys in what seems like no time flat. The iPhone’s sales numbers regardless of quarter, time period, or however you try to calculate them are awesome. However, price has limited some potential buyers. I’m sure sales would be even higher if the hardware and service plans were cheaper. While nothing can be done about the money AT&T takes from your pocket every month, the Missouri University School of Journalism will help you out with the hardware. So how can you get hooked up with a free iPhone or iPod Touch? Come inside dear reader.

In order to get yourself hooked up with a free iPhone or iPod Touch, you will as mentioned before, have to be enrolled at Missouri University School of Journalism. The school lists the iDevices as “requirements” for many classes making them fall into the category of “teaching aid” more or less meaning they are covered under federal grants and other government assisted school grants, (read: free for you and me). While you don’t actually have to buy an Apple product to take the classes as some would at first fear, who wouldn’t for the low low price of free? Heck, if even if you hate them I’m sure you could turn around and sell it. Though the legality and strings attached are questionable.

Brian Brooks, associate dean MU has stated that he is excited about the iPhone/iPod Touch deal as it is obviously something young people are into. Bringing something such as those Apple products into range for many cash strapped college students can create an overall happier atmosphere at the school and in return will indirectly ensure more productive learning time. Productive in the sense that insated of lugging around a laptop or other recording device, they can now use their iPhone/Touch to do the same job, while also having the other functions such as email, web browsing, and phone. While it is convenient for students and techies alike who otherwise couldn’t afford such devices, is it really a great idea to have tax payers paying for other peoples’ gadget obsessions.

Now the gadget freak in all of us will immediately jump out and shout yes. However, think about it for a second, would you be happy knowing your money that is being taken out of your check and witheld is going to some teenager’s iPhone so he can yuck it up in school and may not ever use it for school realted work/material? It is something that runs through my mind. Another issue that has crept up has been highlighted by Elizabeth Eberlin, an MU journalism student. This unhappy MU student is so unhappy in fact that has created a Facebook page to voice her disapproval of the whole deal. Liz states:

“I really like my Apple computer, but I don’t think people should be forced to buy one brand of computer or one brand of anything,” she said.

Furthermore, the anti-governemnt supported Facebook group’s description calls into question the School of Journalism’s relationship with Apple, citing a possible conflict of interest. If Apple is really slipping a few dollars under the table is really a moot point. While I can see a definite probability for increased sales for Apple from this school sponsored iPhone/Touch plan, it isn’t like the students would have gotten other devices, or enough to make a difference. For example, I don’t think that if the program were retracted tomorrow, potential buyers will defect to Windows Mobile or Android Units. While a few who were more looking for a new phone rather than a study tool maybe, but a vast majority are probalby just jumping on board with the program because it’s a free Apple product - something that is quite a rarity.

While MU is making the headlines currently, they aren’t the first to offer this type of program. Stanford and Abilene Christian University both have similar offerings and have had pretty good success with it. According to Brooks, at the end of the year, the program will be evaluated in order to determine its cost effectiveness and the decision will be made to either alter or drop the program all together. Until then…enjoy your new techie government cheese!

Source: Crunchgear, Columbia Missourian, Image Source

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