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back to article Apple launches three-pronged education assault

As expected, Apple has announced a major foray into the education arena with the release of three new – and free – apps, one for reading interactive textbooks, another for creating said textbooks, and a third for accessing K-12, college, and university course materials in iTunes U. More than the apps themselves, what Apple has …

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Voland

The textbooks *START* at $14. I hope you don't think the textbook mfrs would really let Apple sell their $70 dead tree book for $14 *before* the Apple tax ($9.80 after tax... which means more than a 7x reduction in profits).

If anything, I think history has shown a tendency to want to charge the same for a digital copy of something that they charge for a physical copy.

I'm not trying to slag Apple too much for this - I *do* think the textbook market is long overdue for a technical revolution... I'm just not sure the walled garden is where it will or should happen.

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Thumbs down...

... for using the ghastly new 'K-12' thing when you meant 'school'

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I buy a lot of electronic textbooks. The prices range from $9.99 to $50.00 and quite often pearson has a special where if you buy multiple books there is a 50% discount.

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So inexpensive on your planet means something at least 4 times more costly than the alternatives. Is there space for one more in this paradise, and how do I get in?

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@AC

Come now, be fair, if you want to talk about a "30% Apple Tax" because the publisher doesnt get 100% of the sale, I think you need to come here and tell us what level the "Bookshop Tax" is set at.

Here's a hint: Its probably more than 30%.

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@ Tringle

Which Alternatives? Are we talking about Ebook readers with signidifantly less functionality, that can't in a pinch double as laptop (thus adding more portability, and more opportunity to write whenever), or other device?

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Anonymous Coward

You're right. Everyone should be punished because they don't call things that same things you do. Please don't meet an unknown tribe....

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Headmaster

It might also be an idea to have VAT removed from ebooks so that the schools and/or students can afford them.

Also, an easy and simple way for the schools to have their own "library" of purchased ebook licences as not every book is issued to a student for the a full year or even a term. A "real" book might be used by 5 or 6 different classes over the course of a single day. Imagine the costs to a school if every student e-book reader has to have it's own copy of each required book for the whole school year.

Then there's the second-hand book market. Anyone who has been to college or university and had any sense probably saved a fortune by buying second/third/fourth hand text books.

Back in the day (fire was still "new tech" :-)), many of the text books I used at school in subjects like History, Eng. Lit etc were many, many years old. It's not as if Shakespeare's Henry V or Macbeth needs updating on a regular\r basis.

Icon....well....because

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Anonymous Coward

Try selling?

If you have a bought and paid for book you could sell it on to the next group to need it so the full purchase price is not a fully sunk cost, with care your US$ 800 investment should come down to somewhere nearer US$ 600 and the deal could be even better. Have you tried that with an ilock-u-pad?

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jai
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re "The textbooks START at $14"

dunno what school you went to, but they didn't teach you so well in the reading classes did they?

from the article:

> with "most" of their offerings priced at $14.99 _or_less_

so yes, a few might be more than 15 bucks, but most of them will be cheaper.

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@AC

The article says: "'most' of their offerings priced at $14.99 or less". That's quite different from your shouty assertion that "the textbooks *START* at $14". It's explicit from the news released that the publishers will be selling their $70 books for $14.99, presumably because without a resale market they can sell a completely new set of copies every year.

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'most' of their offerings priced at $14.99 or less.

"Most" is not "All", it will be the same as with CDs, $14.99 or less will only apply to the one that don't sell well. Looks like nobody has written any economics books that explain supply and demand pricing in iBook format.

Added to which the demand for educational texts is artificial since the demand is created by the requirement to read specific texts and not by open market forces.

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@Field Marshal Von Krankenfart

McGraw-Hill, amongst others, has explicitly said it will be charging $14.99 for all textbooks that currently retail at $75. Terry McGraw of McGraw-Hill has spoken to journalists to confirm that and to confirm that he expects to make up the difference through volume.

Your theory that "most" books will be those "that don't sell well" and hence will be charged more is pure speculation and flies in the face of the announcements by (i) Apple; and (ii) the publishers themselves.

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I should have been a bit more specific

While what you say is true for a college student having to purchase their own texbooks, I was thinking of education overall including public K-12. At the volume discounts school districts get for textbooks, it's cheaper for the textbooks than an iPad. On average textbooks run $50 each, and say if you have 6 classes, that'd be $300 - still far less than the starting price of an iPad. And I think the average college student is probably going to take better care of a device they had to purchase vs. something that is provided to say your average high school student. Since I work in educational IT I know how kids treat equipment and I don't think an iPad wouldn't last that long in that sort of an environment.

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@ Chad: "I disagree"

"The iPad seems to hit at least 3"

You can drop it -nope

> battery life

More than one day use away from the mains -nope

Charges over USB 2.0 -nope

> easy to update

Could be discussed. Easy when you can log on your Apple account. Tied to some form of access to your hard-earned (updates won't be free -not that they necessarily should). Let's put this one on the "maybe" pile.

> be inexpensive

That one hardly needs adressing.

So that's 3 definite "No"s and one "maybe".

Please explain the train of thoughts that lead you to post that the iPad meets "at least 3", or be labelled a fanbuoy (oh, the infamy!).

Disclaimer for the thought-impaired: getting the facts right is not a dig at anyone's personnal cult. Sheesh, kids these day.

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@ThomH

Excellent news THomH, I genuinely delighted to see that, do you have any idea if Gill & Macmillan or Folens are going to do the same?

However I do stand over my comment that "most" is not "all", and to assume otherwise is just speculation on you part.

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Exclusive

Anything you publish via iBooks is exclusive to Apple.

No thanks.

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FAIL

Exclusive...

Ouch :( Yes - you're right - the license (in iBooks Author) is quite clear.

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FAIL

The paperless office/classroom

not gonna happen

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Anonymous Coward

Errr...

The paperless offices and classrooms are right up the hall from the paperless bathroom.

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Paperless Bathroom

There were just three shells on a shelf

"He doesn't know how to use the shells!"

Love that film

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Anonymous Coward

I have an educentric App on iOS & Android - in the UK all school iPads tend to run off a single iTunes account, supposedly you can only manage 5 - but its easy to get round and there's actually not much alternative practically.

Until Apple introduce an LVL equivalent or volume/edu purchasing outside the US, there's not a huge incentive for publishers software or tree-based to take on the inevitable losses of switching platforms - even before the 30% commission and content exclusivity is factored.

If they really want an iPad in every student's hand, probably time to figure out a way of allowing schools outside the US to buy Apps and manage devices - generally after the first misuse of teacher's credit card, the current prefered method is to re-enter jarg CC details and buy iTunes vouchers with petty cash.

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And indeed, Cocoa

was some kind of teach-the-kids programming system before it got reused for Object C APIs

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Anonymous Coward

iTunes will happily let you buy eBooks, but there's no way to read them without an iOS device.

Same with this software - it'll let you create iBooks, but not actually read the damn things (AFAICT).

Wrong - supports saving as PDF.

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Also supports saving in open standard EPUB format.

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I really, really want to

have my 8 yr old take a $500 iPad to class. The same 8 yr old who repeatedly loses his lunchbox, his gloves, his agenda. Not really Apple's fault, but expensive & kiddy school is not a good mix.

For older kids, college, or even for company documents, who knows...? Can't be worse than the prices textbooks are going for. I'm curious to see how much innovation they've managed to carry out in this space.

</mixed feelings>

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Hmmm... your average crackhead will have no problem getting a fix in exchange for a shiny new iPad, something they're unlikely to manage with a physics textbook.

Cue increases in muggings in and around colleges and uiversities.

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Go

Lock in?

The use of tablets as a medium for education material is going to happen, and I agree with many of the posters that dead tree media forms for higher education are massively over-priced. What I would take umbrage with however is a lock-in to the iPad. Digital text books are fine, but not in a format which will only work on a single company's device.

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Anonymous Coward

makes good sense to me

It's about time Apple got something done with Pearson and the other big publishers, it's been on the cards for at least a decade. Did anyone see if Murdoch and his educational intentions are mentioned in the mix? Thought not.

This generation of iPad - maybe not that great for all day use, subsequent displays / oled films etc, possibly.

The book price is beside the point anyway. The big gain from iBooks or whatever you want to call them is hybrid content. No way are they going to pass up on using knowledge of what content you need to study when, and push / promote that at just the right moment. Cram-fest season or not. Students (and teachers with targets to reach) are the ideal captive audience. That way your titles get much higher reach, which you makes more profit then arguing a few percents on the cover price.

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Somebody think of the mathematicians!

In maths TeX and its cubs are pretty much the standard for writing technical books. Surely Apple know the education sector well enough to realise this, and don't expect serious authors to use drag-and-droolware?

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Nice little cash cow if they can get in on it.

From my experience, elecronic anythings get trashed in schools.

And the earlier you go into the education system, the more comprehensivly trashed they get.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

Finally and end to forced disfigurement

The hell with uni textbook publishers. I don't know about you but we went through hell with over stuffed ultra heavy backpacks and also had to carry more of the ultra useless books on hand or on wheeled carts. Most of us ended up with shoulder and back damage which is permanent and leads to worsening posture and issues as you get older all because the greasy text book bastard industry who and their supporters on here can go to hell! As mentioned an iPad costs less than a single semester of rip off books that you have to sell back for nothing because I've never used a single one in all my professional careers since uni. Uni is a total joke, worthless rubbish whose only worth in the job market is that you will stick through with something no matter how useless it is. Probably buttering you up to be shackled with a useless cheap plastic PC laptop, low end kit and and a demotivational job -- Probably writing FOSS or Windows software for a living.

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WTF?

Why would you carry your textbooks round with you???

When I was at uni, I carried a bag which contained the notebooks I needed to take notes at lectures, and the stuff I needed for tutorials. My textbooks stayed in my room, where I needed them on the rare occasions I actually did some work.

I saw literally no-one carry actual books except to and from the library or bookshop.

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Wow...

I knew Apple had the education sector stitched up in the past, but thought they blew it years ago. That caption pic kinda proves me wrong - that's a lot of apple kit!

Bugger the books though...I bet all of them are just trawling Farcebook.

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Well, it costs so much to go to college in the US...

...the extra price of an Apple PC is trivial in comparison.

And students, like most young people, tend to like to go with the herd.

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jai
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very much looking forward to what comes from this

at the moment it's textbooks for schools, yes, but wait until the next wave of technical manuals and programming guides come out.

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Plus they're interactive and Apple provides a tool to let you build your own. Contrast that with Word or Acrobat where you have a huge outlay.

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JDX
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Um

Why can't publishers _already_ create Apple-compatible versions of textbooks - just as they can for Kindle?

The creation tool seems a gimmick, is the real meat of this the new "interactive book" format?

Also - is that picture in the article genuine?

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Existing books are not interactive, just static text. You might want to read the about the system first.

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Anonymous Coward

"Existing books are not interactive, just static text"

And so the Apple revisionism begins....

Actually people have been producing electronic documentation that includes stuff like embedded video, audio, and interactive illustrations for some years now.

Apple haven't invented anything new here. They have just created another tool to do the above, with the difference being that this one that locks people into the Apple walled garden in the process.

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Don't let your Microsoft sponsored hatred for Apple show so much. Makes you much less credible.

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WTF?

Giving it a fair shake?

"That said, any effort to lighten the backpacks of students overloaded with hefty textbooks, along with making it easier for textbooks to be updated as scientific progess and historical events warrant, should be given a fair shake."

It's a solved problem. We call it "The Internet". Perhaps you've heard of it. Apple's product managers clearly haven't. Perhaps their walled garden is so effective that they've forgotten the outside world exists.

Factual material lends itself *extremely* well to websites because it has an extremely long shelf-life and no copyright protection.

If something is true, it tends to remain true. This is provably so in mathematics and certainly true in practice in science and engineering until you are well past undergraduate level. Indeed, it would be rather scandalous if this weren't true across the board, since that would imply that we were teaching students something that won't be any use in twenty years time /even in that academic discipline/.

Similarly, if something is true, you can't copyright a statement of the fact. Others are therefore free to take "the truth" and present it in their own way on their own web-site. Experience shows that quite large numbers of people do this quite voluntarily and there are whole web-sites devoted to small articles about stuff.

And lastly, increasing numbers of lecturers put their course synopses online. These summarise exactly what students need to know for exams, which is a convenience you'll never get in a textbook. (I'm assuming that most students, for most of their courses, mostly just want to pass the exam and move on to the next stage. Is that too cynical of me?)

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Sadly, schools are broken

I'm most knowledgable about the US market but over there the teacher shortage generally means that you end up with teachers having to do quite a lot of work outside of their own subjects, such as — for example — PE teachers teaching maths. Because they don't know the topic all that well, they're quite dependant on the textbook. Meanwhile, states require that textbooks be certified at the state level before schools are permitted to purchase them.

As a result web sites are generally out as a teaching tool because the subject-hopping teachers prefer to trust what the state has explicitly approved and the subject-native teachers can do without the liability of turning away from the specified materials.

The conservative approach that goes into textbooks prior to submission to state bodies therefore leads to children carrying around huge, heavy books with words that were fixed in stone a long time previous.

Forget the Apple angle; any move to electronic materials — which are less regulated at present and needn't carry the same heft or price — will be a great advancement.

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Devil

1984

A text book that can be instantly updated as the facts change. That would've made Winston Smith's work so much easier.

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If they're being given away...

...I'll have one. I just won't pay for one. I already have a tablet, laptop, desktop computer AND two smartphones, I really don't need an iAnything. It'd be like a downgrade!

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You will pay for it

and so will I. Who honestly falls for the word "free" anymore?

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Re: who falls for the word "free"?

Erm, politicians?

Erm, every flipping time.

Erm, even when you stand next to them and shout in their ear "IT'S NOT FREE YOU DOOFUS!!".

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Unhappy bunny

My kids are getting set homework that requires them to have PowerPointwhich in turn requires them to have Windows. I'm not happy about this stranglehold, and I'm even more unhappy about Apple muscling in on the act.

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