Miffy and Sandy Jr. arrive green on campus and are promptly given iPods as party favors. All Brett got was a Final Four towel.
Duke's decision to give members of the freshman class (a group they've feted as "the class of the future") cool digital music devices is causing teen-angst-envy and cash-machine ripples felt from Durham to Palo Alto. The Duke Computer Store opened their Bryan Center doors with a huge iPod iStuff accessories sale ("leather holsters, armbands, and $50 off on portable speakers!").
One wise Chronicle op-ed writer imagined this scenario: Hot shot high school senior is choosing between two colleges. The word is out--not only does Duke let the kids sleep in, they get a techie gift bag.
"Slam dunk. I'm there! I'm a Cameron Crazy."
It's only just begun, however. What happens next year?
The ante is raised. Can't you see it? All the college guides start listing a new info category for each school. Enrollment, average SATs, and ... signing bonus.
So next summer the 24/7 Duke publicity machine issues a press release granting all incoming freshman an entire fall Abercrombie & Fitch wardrobe and the Duke Stores offer special deals on A&F fine wood cabinetry.
Next day The New York Times announces that Harvard is giving each member of its freshman class a new PT Cruiser and 10 shares of Google to play with.
An evil empire scenario is even plausible. A technology survey last month revealed that only 5 percent of United States households had handheld digital music players. High tech entrepreneurs are salivating, remembering the glory days when only 5 percent of the households had PCs.
IPods are the tip of the next big frontier, after the PC, wireless and search booms. The Apple/Duke alliance is not unlike the Nike/Duke juggernaut. Soon enough look for the Real Player/Rhapsody/Harmony gang to hook up with Carolina, blocking an iTunes invasion into Chapel Hill.
Hey, buddy, can you spare a FireWire cable?