Apple’s Annual ‘Back to School’ Promotion Kicks off This Friday

Apple may give away gift cards rather than headphones this year.
Apple Back to School Credit: Apple
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It’s that time of year again when Apple prepares to launch its annual promotion to aid in equipping students with the latest technology — and the timing is even more interesting this year.

According to a Tweet from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple will be launching this year’s Back to School promotion the same day that the M2 MacBook Pro goes on sale in Apple Stores around the world.

Gurman only seems to be sure of the U.S. launch date for the promotion, so it’s unclear if it will be launching elsewhere on the same day. Typically, the promotion launches in Canada at the same time, although Europe and Asia sometimes lag a couple of weeks behind. Due to seasonal differences in the southern hemisphere, Apple runs back-to-school promotions in January in Australia and New Zealand.

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It also looks like we could see a return to the back-to-school promotions of years past when Apple gave away gift cards rather than headphones.

This was the norm for years until Apple switched to offering Beats headphones in 2015 instead and then switched to AirPods in 2020. In the days when Apple was offering gift cards, the amounts were typically $100 for a qualifying Mac and $50 for a qualifying iPad. However, Apple also used to provide gift cards with the purchase of an iPhone, but it stopped including that in the promotion when it switched to bundling headphones instead.

The Beats headphone deal ended up being considerably more lucrative for students than the gift cards. In 2015, Apple offered the $200 Beats Solo 2 for free, which could also be applied as a credit against a more expensive pair of Beats. It backed off on that a bit when it switched to AirPods in 2020, offering only the standard $159 AirPods, although, as with the Beats, customers could upgrade to the AirPods with Wireless Charging or AirPods Pro by paying the difference. However, the AirPods Max were excluded entirely from the offer; if you wanted those, you had to pay the regular price.

If Apple indeed returns to offering gift cards again, it’s hard to be sure how this will play out. Apple still runs gift card promotions for Black Friday, with values varying based on the device purchased. It would likely do the same for the back-to-school promotion, but based on the flat-rate headphone offers of the past few years; it’s possible it could go with a single value of gift card across the board.

However, even if Apple’s promotion switches back to gift cards, the iPhone won’t likely return to the program. Last year’s list of eligible devices included the iMac, MacBook Pro (Intel and M1 models), M1 MacBook Air, M1, and Intel Mac mini, 2021 M1 iPad Pro, and fourth-generation iPad Air. The lower-cost iPad and fifth-generation iPad mini were notably excluded from the deal.

With the M2 MacBook Pro landing in stores the same day the new promotion is expected to go live, that will likely be included, but it’s not a sure thing. Whether the new M2 MacBook Air will be part of the deal is a more difficult question to answer, as Apple’s redesigned entry-level MacBooks aren’t expected to go on sale until next month. Either way, we’ll hopefully find out on Friday.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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