On Apple’s Education Announcement
At this morning’s education-oriented media event, Apple announced iBooks 2, a new version of iTunes U, and iBooks Author, and interactive textbook publishing app. Thoughts:
- Apple did their best to answer the chicken-and-egg problem of any content / consumer ecosystem: several big-name publishers are on board from day one, with very generous prices. Meanwhile, students will be tempted by the low prices, interactivity, convenience, and possibility they already have an iPad.
- Apple woos the content producers with a complete publishing platform: the allegedly easy-to-use iBooks Author and vacuum-tube-to-the-wallet App Store-esque iBooks 2. And the huge installed user base of iOS users should provide a huge incentive to any textbook publisher – students already accustomed to purchasing iTunes music and iOS apps will have no problem adding a few textbooks.
- The pricing of a $15 textbook vs. the more typical $75 seems like a deal too good to be true, but can be made up by the publishers through volume (check out this All Things D article): textbooks purchased by schools and then lent to students last about five years in the hands of multiple students, while the iBooks version would be purchased by the student with new textbooks purchased each year as a student moves on to the next grade.
- Challenges Amazon’s Kindle platform in a number of areas: interactive textbook content that will look and run better on the iPad, Mac-specific publishing tools, new relationships with textbook publishers and independent authors, rock-bottom pricing, and pushing the ePub format. But the largest implication for any student is to purchase an iPad and read Amazon content via a Kindle app, vs. a Kindle device.
All in all, the most impressive thing is how Apple presents a new platform as a win-win for just about everyone involved (as opposed to Google TV where the platform arrives without content agreements, or WebOS with no apps). Well, unless you’re Amazon, or an employee of a brick-and-mortar school bookstore.