I'm asking this anonymously. Our department of computer science just received a donation to buy laptops for students. Major activity will be programming and languages used will be C/C++/Python/Perl/Java/R. We will be instituting a lending scheme for students who can't afford them.
As a committee, we now need to decide whether we should be buying Apple Macbook Pro(13") or Thinkpad (T420) both with more or less similar specifications and price. The Apple will run it's OS and Thinkpad will run Debian Linux.
My question is : We are training the students for research and we wish to provide them with an environment close to how it is in the real world. Should we choosing one over the other considering all students have an inclination for research/academia?
This is not meant to be a flame war but rather a question of whether Academia has hidden liking towards Apple and if yes, why?
I think that in most conferences/project meetings I attend, there isn't an overwhelming preference on one side or the other (I'm working in computer science, in case that matters). In other words, there are many academics happily working with linux, and many academics happily working with mac (some are even working with both), so in your case, there is no real wrong choice.
From what I've experienced, in some places, there could be a preference for apple computers because of the way some universities order their hardware: if you ask for a PC, you might not be able to choose which one exactly, and you might end up with a low quality, cheap product, whereas if you ask for a mac, the quality is better (at least, that was true a while ago). But I don't think it can explain why the proportion of apple laptops in the academic world is higher than that of the general population.
In any case, I don't think that working within on environment will prevent the students to switch to another one later one if they need to.