Apple’s iPad Fights For the Education Market

5 minute read
| Particle Debris

The education market is very price sensitive. Three players are in a pitched battle for the right-priced personal computer: Apple (iOS/iPad), Google (Chrome OS + Android), and Microsoft (Windows 10 Cloud). These OSes and their implementation on hardware, plus the right kind of marketing and staying power, could determine which company seizes the hearts and minds of schools and students.

iPad with e-Book

Apple’s weapon of choice in education: iPad

The Particle Debris article of the week is a beautifully written article at The Verge by Dieter Bohn.

Apple vs Google vs Microsoft: who will get to the future of PCs first?

The author lays out the competitive scenario, the three players and their offerings, and explains each in detail with respect to education.

For starters, author Bohn looks at how Google and the Chrome OS is beginning to evolve. For example, an inexpensive PC notebook with a real keyboard and Chrome OS has been giving Apple headaches in some markets, but Chrome OS is just a browser—which limits some pedagogical efforts. But if you add the ability to run Android apps, the game changes. The challenge is scaling Android apps to the larger displays of notebooks,

The Way of the iPad

Next, the author looks at Apple and the iPad. iOS is perfectly integrated into the hardware. Apple just released a new, low end US$329 iPad, very much like an iPad Air except with an A9 CPU. We know that educational pricing can be even lower, especially in quantity. So Apple has a real weapon here.

One problem is that some school districts are not so fond of the virtual keyboard notion when it comes to educating students about computers. I read once that, for certain testing, real keyboards had to be attached. Also, for some kinds of advanced work, the iPad apps, especially when it comes to programming, are fewer and lower quality than desired. In general, author Bohn contends that the iPad still requires some technical growth and multi-user accounts. But, for now, the iPad is formidable, low cost offering for primary and secondary education.

Finally, Microsoft’s education strategy is outlined. We’ll know more in May, but Microsoft seems to be leaning towards a more lightweight version of Windows 10. The perils and benefits of a lightweight version of Windows 10 are explained nicely. Remember the Windows RT (ARM) debacle? On the other hand, the key to inexpensive hardware is an OS that doesn’t impose too many demands. The discussion here is illuminating.

Thoughts on Apple

Apple doesn’t want to give up this market, even if it’s a small part of the business. Experience has shown that kids tend to stay with the platform they grew up with and learned with. The real question is how far Apple is willing to go with iOS and the hardware to fully cater to the educational market even as the company advances the iPad state of the art for the majority of other iPad customers.

Also, as students graduate to the college level and full feature notebooks running macOS, Windows 10 and Linux, it’s likely seen as more respectable to open up a notebook lid and type on a real keyboard. Young students want to be ready to be more mature students. Can Apple convince students and schools that a tablet with a virtual keyboard really is the future, even as it invests millions in designing the Touch Bar MacBook Pros for grownups?

This easy to read but detailed and informative article at The Verge, is must reading for any Apple enthusiast, especially educators.

Next Page: The News Debris For The Week Of April 10th. The evolution of various technologies over the years.

4 Comments Add a comment

  1. Not sure if Apple can easily turn it around in K-12. I see articles like this almost every morning.

    “On Monday, the Hastings Board of Education is set to approve the purchase of 1,200 Chromebooks to replace the aging computers at the high school.”

    “At that time, the district opted for Macbook Air laptops as they were the best option on the market for the high school.”

    But I think this should really had Cook getting it a long time ago.

    “At Apple CEO Tim Cook’s old high school, they are selling their MacBooks to buy Chromebooks”

    This was last year and little has changed.

    We have always been an Apple hardware house and Windows strictly for gaming. I have a HUGE family and for the last 2 years been replacing the kids Macs with Chromebooks.

    They are just a better solution, IMO. Apple dropped the ball.

    Our schools were all Apple hardware. Over the last holidays the last Macs were replaced with Chromebases. A room full of iMacs in the Library for whatever they now call AR.

    There is confusion that Chromebooks take from Windows and that is just incorrect in many situations. Chromebooks take far more from Macs, IMO.

  2. John:

    A quick word about Dieter Bohn’s excellent piece in the The Verge, and the improvement of the iOS platform specifically.

    I think, based on numerous comments and criticisms over the years, including yours, combined with my own user experience, that there are two modifications that Apple could make to iOS, at least on the iPad, that would take it to the next level and effectively compete with traditional PCs, not to mention Google Chromebooks and MS Windows 10 Cloud.

    First, as Bohn points out, is multi-user capability, with true user-specific configurability as one sees on the Mac (and most PCs). My technical ignorance of what is required to solve this problem biases me to likely under-estimate the challenges involved with an iOS device, however it would seem that this is something that could be solved by Apple leveraging their cloud computional investment, in which a user’s configuration is stored in the cloud and then they simply log into their iCloud account and access that configuration, which is then loaded onto the device, piecemeal as needed for speed of getting started. Not unlike one’s music account, which is in the cloud and only those elements that you specify are loaded onto the hardware. Given that Apple’s work suite is now cloud-centric, I don’t see why this should be such a big technological leap, but that is the blissful status of ignorance. Perhaps Apple could weigh in on this topic with one of their iPad infomercial pieces and explain. Better still, hopefully they are assiduously working in the background to ‘make it so’.

    Second, would be to have multiple working windows open in the iPad, not unlike macOS. Again, my ignorance is likely unmasked by asking, why could this not work the way it does with the video screens on the iPad Pro, be it a Skype teleconference, a movie from iTunes or Netflix, in which one can shrink the size of the screen and literally move it around with a flick of the finger. With a tap of the finger or pencil or even with a keyboard command, a window could be brought forward and perhaps auto-enlarge. This would improve, in my view, the multi-tasking experience on the iPad, even if there were an upper bound to the number of apps that could be windowed at a time. This, to me, seems as soluble a problem as was the earlier challenge of video housed on a Unix platform that many argued could never solved. Until Apple solved it.

    I think that these two modifications alone to the iOS platform, at least on the iPad or even if confined to the iPad Pro, would make a substantial difference in the popular perception of the iPad’s readiness to assume the PC mantle. I would argue that both features should be available on any iPad, Pro or otherwise, if the iPad is to rule the school.

    On another note, I was tempted to comment on your ‘Apple should build family service robots’ piece the other day, but time did not permit. As I have commented on this multiple times before, I will simply refer the comment I posted on this topic 20 months ago https://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/why-apple-should-be-more-interested-in-robots and say ‘ditto’.

    Cheers.

  3. aardman

    That’s nice what you say, Mr. Bezos. But your overweening goal for Amazon seems to be to kill all the competition and monopolize the retail business. You have tremendous power as it is. You personally own one of the three major national newspapers and you even got the feds to restore your monopoly on eBooks after Apple broke it.

    What you do is not good for anyone but you. And so, as little as I can do, I will resist your efforts every step of the way and hope other people do so too.

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