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Could Jobs' departure = good news for education?

So Steve Jobs is on "medical leave." The blogosphere and major news outlets are buzzing about implications for the company and ZDNet's Larry Dignan sums it up nicely:In a nutshell, Apple will have almost six months without Jobs at the helm.
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Written by Christopher Dawson on

So Steve Jobs is on "medical leave." The blogosphere and major news outlets are buzzing about implications for the company and ZDNet's Larry Dignan sums it up nicely:

In a nutshell, Apple will have almost six months without Jobs at the helm. The thing to watch will be how Apple’s product cycle goes. If Apple keeps churning out hits it’ll be a good sign for the future health of the company.

I, however, am going to take a more selfish view of this. Let's say Jobs is gone for good. Even if he's not out, it's pretty clear that control of the company is going to be shifting over the next year. What does that mean for Ed Tech, since Apple largely seems to have forgotten about the market that they built in the 80's and that helped sustain them through leaner times?

Apple, is, no doubt, a consumer products company now, but they potentially have a lot to offer the educational market. Obviously, their products are slick, easy to use, stable, and largely malware-free. They handle multimedia and the web very well (all the way from the iPod touch to high-end desktops) and make content creation a snap for students and teachers. Seems like a winning combination to me for Ed Tech, right?

The problem is that they're just so bloody expensive. I know, I know, feature for feature, the so-called "Mac Tax" is largely a myth. However, the Mac netbook also seems fairly mythical, there are no plans of which I'm aware to make the OS available via "terminal services" to thin clients (yes, there are third-party ways to make this happen, but it would be incredibly compelling if offered as part of OS X server), and the Mac Mini remains a pricey foray into the low-end market where much cheaper competitors dominate.

So is there any way that some of the "hits" Larry refers to above could be low-cost hits appropriate for the educational sector? I'm certainly not holding my breath, but the Obama administration is promising stimulus money to revitalize education for the 21st century. What if a Jobs successor could tap into this and bring some great Apple products back to schools? Stimulus money or not, this is still a recession and schools still need to get the most bang for their buck. Can Apple deliver if Jobs really hands over the reins?

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