Apple Computer Inc. last week reorganized its sales and marketing groups aimed at education buyers, and brought back an exec from Apple's early days to lead the effort. According to a companywide memo issued by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the Cupertino, Calif., company is combining its education sales and marketing teams into one education business unit that numbers more than 750. "For over 25 years, Apple has led the way in applying technology to education," Jobs said in the memo. "The education market is part of our DNA. "Like most markets, the education market has become very competitive. While we are continuing to innovate with new products, like the eMac, Xserve, Mac OS X and Remote Desktop, we also recognize the need to be more cohesive and responsive with our education sales and marketing efforts." Heading the new group as vice president, education, is John Couch. Couch served as vice president and general manager of Apple's Personal Office Sales division, which oversaw development of the Lisa, Apple's short-lived GUI forerunner to the original Macintosh. He was most recently CEO of DoubleTwist Inc., an Oakland, Calif., developer of software for the life sciences that ceased operations in March 2002. Under the new organizational scheme, Couch will report to Timothy V. Cook, executive vice president, worldwide sales and operations; both the education sales team (headed by Jim Marshall) and the education marketing team will report to Couch. Cheryl Vedoe, former head of the education marketing team, is assuming the title of president of Apple's PowerSchool division. Created by Apple's March 2001 acquisition of PowerSchool, the group provides Web-based student information systems for K-12 schools and school districts. "The PowerSchool development, sales and marketing teams will now report to Cheryl, creating a 'FileMaker Inc.' style organization that has the single goal of making PowerSchool's products successful in the education market," Jobs wrote. FileMaker Inc., Apple's database division, was created when Jobs spun the company's longstanding Claris software operation back into the company in January 1998. "PowerSchool has the potential to make our schools run more efficiently, and to dramatically enhance communication and collaboration among teachers, administrators, parents and students. This new organization will give us the best chance of realizing this potential." Apple officials declined to comment.
Apple's education sales have had a rough ride in recent years. Jobs has acknowledged that the company mistimed its move to take over education sales from third-party distributors as of July 2000, just in time to throw the company's fall 2000 educational buying season into disarray. Sources said the education misstep precipitated the departure of Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales Mitchell Mandich, a longtime Jobs loyalist from his days at NeXT Software Inc. Apple moved aggressively to mend fences with education buyers, and the company has claimed its sales have since recovered. However, some observers speculated that the decision to open the all-in-one eMac system to the retail channel a scant five weeks after introducing it for education buyers only reflects persistent softness in education sales.
I started writing this article the morning after the media vultures started picking over Steve Jobs’ resignation carcass. Why add more fuel to the Apple fire, I thought. It has been “Apple this” and “Apple that” for longer than I care to remember. So I put down my notes. Now, more than five weeks later, the world has not ended with Steve Jobs no longer at Apple’s helm. Its shares have not plummeted. The iPhone 5 will likely dominate 2011 holiday sales. And, in the process, Apple became the most valuable company on the stock market.
Life continues, and so I write.
Give an apple to the teacher, as the cliché goes, and you stand a better chance of getting in their good books. But in a very real sense, for the better...