Apple's textbook plan's biggest flaw is that it's tied to the iPad

Apple's textbook plan's biggest flaw is that it's tied to the iPad

Summary: Apple may aim to reinvent the textbook market, but its efforts so far don't show that it wants to do so openly.

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TOPICS: Security, Apple
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Revealed today, Apple's textbook ambitions are, conceptually, air tight: The company plans to inject itself directly between textbook publishers, schools, and students, acting as a middle man for a business model in dire need of updating.

But there are problems, too. ZDNet's Zack Whittaker notes that, while Apple, publishers, and rich schools are clearly the winners with the new developments, groups like poorer students and low-income school districts will clearly lose out.

Jason Kendrick points out another problem -- iPads and careless kids don't go together all that well. "They are simply too thin and fragile to handle the rigors of the school day," Kendrick says of the iPad. "I can easily imagine horrible cracking sounds emanating from backpacks as things are thrown on top of the tablets," he writes.

But there's another issue: Apple's interactive textbooks are tied directly to the iPad. This, granted, is unavoidable, as it's Apple that's done all the legwork to deal with publishers and develop the requisite creation tools. The goal is to tie textbook purchases to iPad purchases, after all. It's a savvy business decision, but Apple's closed ecosystem leaves out in the cold many potential users, especially those who would have a hard time shelling out the cash for a $500 device.

A better route would be the one followed by Amazon's Kindle app. While available on platforms as diverse as Windows, Android, and even iOS, the Kindle app is still tied to Amazon's own ecosystem. This vastly expands the number of potential users while still giving Amazon access to them.

But Apple isn't Amazon. As history as shown, Apple is far more interested in controlling the end-user experience, a possibility not afforded to it if users are reading textbooks on disparate devices like Android tablets and smartphones. Hence why it makes sense that Apple went the route it did.

But on matters of education, this approach is harder to swallow. While many school districts have money set aside for iPad purchases, far many more are dealing with budget cuts and teacher lay offs. If Apple is as serious about improving education as its publicity would lead you to believe, the best solution would be to open up the format to devices and platforms besides the iPad and iOS.

Topics: Security, Apple

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  • You could change the subject to...

    'tied to any tablet.'

    While tying education to a $500 device, I see the same problems tying it to ANY device. I can see why Apple wants to do this (profits and platform lock in), but whenever you mandate a piece of technology to be required for any type of education, it is a failure.

    Carrying 10 pounds of books is a pain (but good exercse :-)), but is good in that the playing field is level and you can reduce costs by buying the books used, then selling them back after your classes end. There is no indication that virtual books will be substantially less, and there is no resell market for them.

    If anyone were truly interested in solving the problem for the educational market (and I am not convinced there is a problem), they would create tools based on HTML 5 and base it on the browser (all are/will be HTML complaint) and make learning interactive that way.

    This is nothing more than yet another Apple lock in, tied to their iTunes monopoly (and yes, I believe they have a monopoly in the digital music distribution market!)
    omdguy
    • RE: Apple's textbook plan's biggest flaw is that it's tied to the iPad

      @omdguy You have to consider the Kindle. It costs less than $100 and is designed from the ground up for reading. Budget friendly and the books for it cost peanuts. Students don't need an expensive, fragile, luxury device like the iPad when the cheap and robust Kindle is around. Amazon already has the ecosystem to support it, as well.

      The question is whether Amazon will step in here and start getting more textbooks available.
      Imrhien
      • RE: Apple's textbook plan's biggest flaw is that it's tied to the iPad

        @Imrhien

        How are the graphics on the $100 Kindle?
        msalzberg
      • RE: Apple's textbook plan's biggest flaw is that it's tied to the iPad

        @Imrhien - Kindles are terrible learning devices. lack of graphics, the backwards/forwards trundling through texts, the cumbersome way of annotating (on some devices only) and sharing of notes. They're great for novels, but really no good for learning.
        slaphappy
      • RE: Apple's textbook plan's biggest flaw is that it's tied to the iPad

        @slaphappy<br><br>And iPads with all the games are focused on teaching kids what? How to get higher scores? Talking Tom?
        PollyProteus
      • RE: Apple's textbook plan's biggest flaw is that it's tied to the iPad

        @Pollyproteus
        I'm not sure pointing out the iPad's greater functionality and flexibility does anything for your argument but it is worth noting that aside from books, it is capable of running word processing for writing papers, powerpoint presentations and hundreds of Apps for Math, science, foreign language etc...

        iPad is currently the [i]perfect[/i] companion medium for education.
        Tigertank
      • Have you seen the video???

        @Imrhien <br><br>Watch the video and come back and tell me a Kindle can do the same job...<br><br><a href="http://www.apple.com/education/#video-textbooks" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.apple.com/education/#video-textbooks</a><br><br>This isn't about spewing out the same information in the same old way... It's about a new interactive touch medium with enhanced content that will make for a more emersive learning experience... Some people learn better visually and need visual triggers to remember, some can learn aurally, some can learn by reading, this combines all of them interactively and will most likely improve test scores better than anything we have ever tried in the past. In a nut shell, this has the potential to make kids smarter by teaching them the material in a way that lets them absorb it easier and faster... A kindle aint gonna cut the mustard and pales in comparison... Just watch the video... Eventually it will sink in...
        i8thecat4
      • Kindle Can

        @i8thecat4

        The 100 Dollar Kindle no, but the higher priced Kindle (still less than half the cost of an iWorship_Pad will. As will the Nook color. Android can after all be programmed for most anything.

        But the future of publishing in the electronic age is still HTML5, as previously noted. Bookmarks will then give you all the other options you need.

        Now, about the ridiculously high eBook prices, ...
        YetAnotherBob
    • RE: Apple's textbook plan's biggest flaw is that it's tied to the iPad

      yes poor schools will not afford them. Poor school sometimes can't afford regular books. I remember when I was in High School I had to share text books in some classes. This was in the 90s so I can only imagine how bad it is now. But for the college level an iPad would be way better that carrying all those books. With tuition needing financing anyways an iPad included would not make much of a difference.

      Amazon's kindle fire could be used but in a way it's is even more enclosed than ipad. I also seem to remember a 70 dollar a month subscription for the device. Surely one may be able use the device without subscription but that would be like Xbox 360 without xbox live gold. Over time iPad is the cheaper investment which actually allows more 3rd party capabilities than kindle's totally subsidized ??ber enclosed digital delivery.

      As for iTunes, its not a monopoly. Amazon, Napster, Rapsody, and countless and namless companies have tried to emulate iTunes success to no avail. iTunes is so successfully is because the simplicity of delivery and that no service can match it it's user experience which with apples success with mobile devices makes for a killer combination that no other comany could ever achieve.
      Bakabaka
      • RE: Apple's textbook plan's biggest flaw is that it's tied to the iPad

        @Bakabaka I'm assuming you're talking about Amazon Prime with the "subscription" and well, it's 79 dollars per year, not month.
        Aerowind
      • RE: Apple's textbook plan's biggest flaw is that it's tied to the iPad

        @Bakabaka

        No no no. You don't get it. No one is objecting to closed devices. Closed devices aren't really a problem. The problem is closed content. You don't need to get a Kindle to read a Kindle book. You can read a Kindle book on an iPad.
        tkejlboom
      • RE: Apple's textbook plan's biggest flaw is that it's tied to the iPad

        @Bakabaka I still use my Zune, I like it better than my iPod.
        hayneiii@...
    • RE: Apple's textbook plan's biggest flaw is that it's tied to the iPad

      @omdguy
      you can be sure apple will make sure you can not sell the book to someone else. It will be locked to your id only.
      rparker009
      • RE: Apple's textbook plan's biggest flaw is that it's tied to the iPad

        @rparker009 If the book you're referring to is a an interactive book created using iBooks Author and saved as an .iba file format, then yes you cannot this file output through another store. But there is nothing stopping you from taking your content and using another tool to produce your book and sell it through other stores.
        smulji
    • RE: Apple's textbook plan's biggest flaw is that it's tied to the iPad

      Graphics are for games and illustrations. Not learning, and a 3d image only goes so much further than three 2d images
      HypnoToad72
      • RE: Apple's textbook plan's biggest flaw is that it's tied to the iPad

        @HypnoToad72

        What did you specialize in that you could teach without resorting to graphics, at all? And what is the difference between graphics and illustration in your mind?
        rocket ride
      • RE: Apple's textbook plan's biggest flaw is that it's tied to the iPad

        @HypnoToad72

        What the heck are you talking about? Graphics help education in every field - from mathematics and statical graphs to historical photos and paintings to current events. Imagine reading a text in geography which not only describes the plains of Africa, but includes embedded video of land features, animals and political boundaries. Imagine being able to manipulate 3D models of insects to be able to better understand their anatomy, and being able to zoom in and out of classical paintings to get a better understanding of the styles and techniques of different artists. Students could not only read about the importance of classical composers, but listen to their most famous works.

        There are huge problems with Apple's approach, but mixed-media learning offers amazing potential for revolutionizing how we learn.
        lapland_lapin
      • RE: Apple's textbook plan's biggest flaw is that it's tied to the iPad

        @HypnoToad72 It's not just about graphics... Sound? Imagine a music lesson, where you can see a static picture of a musical instrument. Great. Now imagine a picture where you can actually see the instrument in use, and hear the sounds it makes!

        It should be added I'm no apple fanboy, my phone is Samsung Galaxy S2, and I'm a PC.

        I do work within education, (within I.T. dept within a UK University). And although I don't teach, I just don't understand how people can't see the massive benefit technology can bring to the teaching of all ages.

        It's about changing the way we teach, making learning both fun and interesting.

        And yes, just watch the apple video, the graphics are outstanding. They will no doubt improve lesson content.
        delard@...
    • RE: Apple's textbook plan's biggest flaw is that it's tied to the iPad

      @omdguy

      10lbs? When did you got to school? The 1920s?! Also, no, it's not good exercise. It's high impact exercise, usually done improperly, which will likely mean that every child that's going to school right now will have long term joint problems by 30.
      tkejlboom
    • RE: Apple's textbook plan's biggest flaw is that it's tied to the iPad

      @omdguy
      Apple does not have a monopoly in music distribution. I have over 400 albums and not a single one has been purchased through itunes. There are plenty of alternatives.... people are just too lazy/uninformed to try them.
      kstap