Just a heads up on some numbers I was running today from Apple.
Our associate gave us a quote for 30 iPad2 at the new retail price of $399 and included the Applecare+ program with it- which costs $79 per device and covers up to 2 cases of accidental damage. For each time the device needs replaced/repaired, there is a $49 deductible. Applecare+ covers the device for 2 years.
So here are the numbers I ran for a cart of 30 (which is how they're packaged for schools):
30 x $79 = $2,370
Let's assume the pretty much worst case scenario- 5 broken ipads over the course of 2 years (a high number, especially if they're well protected...which we'll get to in a second). Now, this would be 16.7% of the ipads breaking, or 1 in 6. As a smaller-scale reference point, our school has had 350 ipod touch devices for over three years and in that time we have had a total of 8 ipods with cracked screens from accidental damage (2 of those were teachers/admin, by the way!). Now, that's a bummer, but the reality is that these things don't break very easily because they're very good products (and even with the cracked screen they still function just the same, by the way...).
So, let's go with the high number here- 5. That would be another 5 x $49 deductible = additional $245. For a total of $2,615 out of pocket...
Now, what I'd do with the money instead- buy 5 additional ipad2's at the retail price of $399 (could be even cheaper for edu, but haven't checked prices lately there) for a total of $1,995. Then take the additional $375 (or $620 if you count the money you save from the deductibles) and put it toward good cases that will stop them from being broken when dropped in the 1st place.
This gives you 5 backups/replacements up front that you would never have to worry about filling out a work order form, shipping things back/forth, going to the Apple store, etc., plus provides your ipads with the protection they need so they won't break in the first place.
The bottom line on this is that Applecare might be a good idea for a very small number of devices, but on a large scale (anything 30 and above) I would not recommend it at all.
I know where my money would go if I were making the purchase!
I just tweeted back and forth with Tim Gwynn (tgwynn) and he reminded me of another good point- the cost to completely replace an IOS device without Applecare is half the retail price of the device (plus tax). For the iPad2, this works out to be around $215 now that the retail price has dropped. So to get to that $2,370 mark for 30 ipads, you'd have to bust 11 ipads! Unless your students are using them as frisbees (which would actually be kind've cool...hmm could take video and study motion that way..hmmm but I digress), then you should be much better off when buying in bulk to skip Applecare and save your $$!