Apple Tools For the Future
Apple is good at creating tools for the developer. However, one of the issues, in my opinion, that’s come up lately is how Apple is approaching the education market. By design, Apple only builds the best computers. In many cases, that puts MacBooks/Airs/Pros out of the reach of very young students. By necessity, Apple is pitting iPads against other more conventional PC products. See: “Apple’s iPad Fights For the Education Market.”
Students first exposed to iPads will tend to adopt them as their preferred life-long tools. Unless, of course, the iPad doesn’t meet their needs in the course of self-employment.
From what I’m seeing, young students perceive the iPad, because of its limitations, as a fun internet browsing tool that allows them to read, learn, communicate and play games. But the key element, as they mature, that of using the iPad as a gateway to the creation of products that earn an income, is still in its relative infancy. The evolution of those money making skills requires a steadfast development of various creative skills: programming, video production music, quality apps, story telling, and/or product development. In that respect, iPad design is perhaps barely adequate and maturing too slowly compared to robot technology.
Disheartening is the size of the App Store, the difficulty of finding quality apps, and the amount of revenue that an individual or a small team can generate. The sense of this is going in the wrong direction. That is, only the larger companies with great resources can generate substantial revenues. The little guys struggle. Being a lone wolf app developer is, generally, not a path to home ownership and a family. We punctuate that meme by noting how many young developers live in their parents’ basement.
Modern education, in general, is still geared towards teaching skills that teachers know how to teach. These skills, such as they are, are often inadequate to bring students to a level where they can support themselves in a lifetime of learning, skill development, and entrepreneurial thinking. Those students who fail to develop those required skills in high school and college won’t have the traditional service and labor jobs to fall back on, thanks to the quickly emerging market for robots, and that will create new social problems.
The iPad was developed, in a way, as a supplemental tool for the Mac/PC users. Initially, it addressed certain problems nicely, such as browsing, email, shopping, social media, videos, music, games, and some educational basics. Even today, the current marketplace emphasis is on using iPads and iPhones as consumer toys for content consumption and social exchange, not personal skills development.
However, if the iPad is going to fulfill its ultimate destiny as the preferred tool for those who want to earn their own living, it will have to get dramatically better, quickly, at replacing the Mac and PC.
Otherwise, students who are merging into the modern workforce will turn to other devices and tools (from other companies) to help them succeed. I think Apple’s competitors in education and creative markets sense this already.
When I see observers of Apple complain that the iPad isn’t evolving fast enough, this is one factor I think they’re are worried about. It worries me as well.