NEWS ANALYSIS: Apple's education strategy is starting to look like it might have serious gaps that could prevent the company from taking the leadership role that matches its apparent market ambitions.
took the stage at its New York City education event on Jan. 19
to show off
several new products and services, including iBooks 2, iBooks Authors and a
totally refreshed iTunes U.
expected, the company said that its plans could very well transform how young
people are educated in the United States and spent much of its time trying to
sell parents and educators on the idea.
as nice as the idea to improve education sounds, there are several major flaws
in Apple's strategy. The company has yet to say how it will attract public
school systems that haven't adopted iPads and doesn't quite acknowledge the
fact that there are already several higher education portals designed to do
what iTunes U does. Interactive textbooks are great, but they can only go so
far in appealing to the stakeholders that will be using them.
put, Apple might not have enough technology and services to make its education
push as strong as it could be. This could prove to be a real problem as it goes
to market in the months ahead.
on to find out about some of the major issues affecting Apple's education
1. The branding seems off
has made the odd decision to stick with "iBooks" and "iTunes U
to market its new education services. Its textbook offering now goes under the
heading of "iBooks 2 for iPad," while iTunes U has been revamped as
an education portal. Such branding might confuse consumers and ultimately hurt
adoption of both services. Apple would have been smart to change both services'
names to something distinct.
2. How do we get iPads to students?
digital textbooks more available to students through the use of tablets is a
fine idea. But Apple still hasn't solved the problem of actually getting those
slates in the hands of kids. Around the country today many families can't
afford iPads. What's worse, if schools require them for digital textbooks,
those kids will be left behind. Getting the hardware to the students is the
first step in making iBooks 2 work, and Apple doesn't seem to have adequately
addressed that problem yet.
3. The public education system doesn't
require paying for textbooks
of the hardest sells in Apple's education strategy is forcing kids, kindergarten
through grade 12, to pay for their textbooks. Currently, the vast majority of
public school systems across the United States provide textbooks to kids free
of charge. Unfortunately, in some areas, kids are forced to share books because
the public schools can't afford enough of them. Apple is ostensibly asking them
to now pay for textbooks when they have heretofore not been required to do so.
It's an odd requirement that won't please parents at all.
4. Colleges already have education portals
nothing wrong with
Apple trying to roll out a new education portal in iTunes U
, but the
company should realize that there are several other services out there that
colleges and universities have invested cash in. BlackBoard is arguably one of
the top education portals in the higher-education arena, and for many schools,
switching away from that just might not be financially feasible in the coming