Thursday, January 19, 2012

Apple's intention really doesn't matter ...

The buzz is that Apple has a new initiative, returning to a strategy from it's earliest days with an intent to dominate the rise of mobile learning in the classroom - and kill the printed textbook and lab packs along the way.

"Apple expected to delve into textbooks" - Washington Post

Apple Is Said to Plan Digital-Textbook Push to Bolster IPad Use in Schools - Bloomberg News

Apple Won't Kill the Textbook, But It Might Kill the Handout - PC Magazine

We like the iPad ... quite a bit. We're certain that the iPad has legs as a tool in the classroom for both teachers and learners. It's beautifully designed, with development tools and a supporting business model and development community that are clearly superior.

But, we don't see Apple as a player in the textbook industry. The risk vs reward is completely skewed ... Apple is about making money ... and textbook publishing is no longer an industry with the kinds of margins that interest companies like Apple.

If Apple does intend their new "Garage Band for Books" to be a tool for teachers to use as primary publishers ... that's unrealistic ... we've seen this exact revolution several times over since the 80's, where the latest tech is going to turn teachers into primary publishers ... and it never does. The reason why is simple ... teaching and publishing are different skillsets ... both are consuming professions, neither can be done casually.

But, even if that is Apple's intention, it doesn't really matter. We think that their "Garage Band for Books" would become powerful in the hands (and iPads) of learners. Garage Band didn't replace Pro Tools, but it has enabled a wave of user generated music ... A similar tool for learners to create and share their own mobile learning artifacts could indeed become a powerful way to amplify the iPad as learning platform.

So, in the end, Apple is successful anyway ... and looks brilliant (again).

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