Apple keeps pushing education revolution with iPad Mini and new iBooks Author

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Apple keeps pushing education revolution with iPad Mini and new iBooks Author
Back in January when Apple unveiled iBooks 2 and the company's overall strategy for textbooks and education, we said that the move was on the verge of revolutionary, but had some problems. The announcement of the iPad Mini has solved at least one of those issues, and the addition of the updated iBooks Author app has helped to cover even more ground. 

The simple fact is that tablets have a natural home in education. Printed textbooks are expensive, easily out-dated, and often don't offer much for students who are visual learners, and nothing as far as auditory learners. Tablets offer an interactive experience, and a multimedia experience, so it makes perfect sense that they make their way into the education system. Not surprisingly, Apple wants to be the one to sell those tablets to the schools. 

Apple has a history with its products in the education system, and according to Tim Cook, in the last year iPads have made it into 2,500 schools in the US. That number obviously sounds good as it was presented, with no context, but the number is less impressive if you take into account that there are close to 140,000 schools in the US (~130,000 primary/secondary and ~6,700 post-secondary as of 2010 according to the National Center for Education Statistics). Still, it's a good start given what has been offered on the iPad up until now. 

The iBooks Author update

Tim Cook also said that iBooks textbooks already cover 80% of the core high school curriculum, and we have to imagine that the last 20% that was missing is directly related to one of the updates announced yesterday that has gone a bit under the radar. The general consensus has been that the update to the iBooks Author tool was somewhat minor, but the one update that many people are overlooking is that books can now have mathematical expressions. Just think about that for a second. Mathematical expressions couldn't be added properly before, meaning huge limitations not only on any math textbooks, but also limiting a large amount of books in all sciences. 

There's a reason why when Tim cook announced that feature, he had an aside where he said, "This is a big one". Mathematical expressions are a huge addition to a wide range of textbooks. Not only will that one update help to close out the rest of the core high school curriculum that hasn't been covered by iBooks yet, it will help Apple to push more into higher education. 

The other key update to iBooks Author is that it is now much easier and faster to update books. One of the major issues we thought about with the iBooks textbook plan was the pricing of the books, which was aimed at being $14.99 or less. As you know if you've taken any college courses, traditional books can cost hundreds of dollars. Of course, the idea was that school bookstores buy one copy of a textbook every 5 years at $80 each, which is how Apple got to the $15 mark. The theory is that rather than school bookstores selling a book then buying it back, Apple will get the money, publishers get the money, and students get books that can be corrected and updated. It was a good plan, except for the updating of the books, which should now be fixed with the new tool. 

The iPad mini

The cost issue was also one that we saw as a roadblock as far as schools adopting the hardware as well, but the iPad mini addresses that concern a little bit. Obviously, if you compare it to the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire, the price of an iPad mini is still pretty high, but two things should be considered. First, while Android does have textbooks, the best source of textbooks on Android is the Kindle app, and textbooks are far more expensive there, closer to traditional print textbooks. Second, the Kindle Fire obviously has the textbooks offered through Amazon, but the Kindle Fire is still a very limited platform in general because of the customizations done by Amazon. 

At the end of the day, the cheaper textbooks alone could swing the issue towards Apple, but there's still no guarantee that the iBooks Store will have the textbooks. Of course, the Kindle app is also available on iOS, which should cover any blind spots in the iBooks catalog. This doesn't necessarily mean that Apple is the best option, just that the added initial cost of the iPad mini may be balanced out over the long haul, which is key for budget conscious schools. And, cost aside, Apple has also been working hard to build up the iTunesU offerings. 


The revolution that Apple is pushing for is still a ways off, but Apple is putting in the groundwork to be successful in the endeavor. Amazon and Google still have time to catch up, and obviously the means to deliver with their inexpensive tablets. Unfortunately, even with the means to deliver, neither quite has the visibility of Apple, which can often go a long way in cases like this. Google is still a company that is more known for web services, like Search, Maps, Gmail, and YouTube. The Play Store is making great strides, but it still isn't as established in the public consciousness as iTunes. Amazon is more well known as the place you buy physical goods, and books, not necessarily textbooks and teaching tools.

Apple not only has the established content store in iTunes, and the place in the public consciousness (partially due to lazy traditional media that use iPad or iPhone to refer to all tablets or smartphones), but Apple also spends far more on marketing than either Google or Amazon (or possibly both combined, because Google really spends almost nothing on marketing). Combine that with the fact that Apple has been making deals with schools for at least 20 years, and Apple definitely has an advantage when it comes to getting products into classrooms. Apple has build the groundwork to be successful here, but education is a slow wheel to move, so adoption will likely continue to be sluggish, which is only trouble for Apple as the competition has time to catch up. 

Related phones

iPad mini
  • Display 7.9" 1024 x 768 pixels
  • Camera 5 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A5, Dual-core, 1000 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 4440 mAh



1. devildlm1

Posts: 71; Member since: Sep 12, 2012

sounds like a cool concept but apple is just to proprietary, exclusive and overpriced for its applications. This is the same reason why apple products haven't really been adopted into the business world as much as they'd like

3. Topcat488

Posts: 1416; Member since: Sep 29, 2012

Remember the GooPhone i5, that iPhone 5 clone that showed up before Apple unveiled its sixth–generation iPhone? Well, it looks like the same Chinese “creators” are ready to launch the GooPad mini, now that the iPad mini became official – unless it’s all an online hoax, of course. “Every inch a GooPad mini,” the device carries a $99 price tag and is set to launch at some point in November. This baby is on the way running Android Jelly Bean... lol @ Apple.

8. Haxagon

Posts: 8; Member since: Jun 13, 2011

Given that it's likely to be a better product, as the GooPhone i5 was, maybe I'll pick one up.

11. devildlm1

Posts: 71; Member since: Sep 12, 2012

thanks for saying something totally irrelevant to my post....

13. Topcat488

Posts: 1416; Member since: Sep 29, 2012

Did you not mention overpriced, cool concept, proprietary, and business world. I didn't see ibooks or education anywhere, but sorry if i step on your toe.

15. devildlm1

Posts: 71; Member since: Sep 12, 2012

goophone is really not news or comment worthy dude... just sayin. At least mention contenders that aren't knocoffs

6. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Textbooks are overpriced. I like where Apple is going with iBooks.

10. rusticguy

Posts: 2828; Member since: Aug 11, 2012

Preparing younger generations to grow up into "iSpecs" ... lot has been said by experts on Computer screen fatigue with TABS and phones it gets even worse when you hold it closer as compare to computer screen. Books are expensive is a joke really.

16. Ninetysix

Posts: 2965; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

Let's see you guys link something similar with Android. You can't.

21. rusticguy

Posts: 2828; Member since: Aug 11, 2012

Isn't Philadelphia Inquirer and Tribune Company (owner of LA Times) planning something more ambitious with Andropid absed tablets? iPAds had the early lead so they hold it (though falling). Going by their thoughts aother publishers are also not sitting silent. Don't worry market will decide where it ends up and it's Android all along if trends are to be any indicator ... unless Apple further degrades specs to fight on price ... :)

24. The.Dark.Knight.Rises

Posts: 72; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

They are the only ones offering textbooks an they're textbooks are beautiful, easy to use and fun.

2. Ravail

Posts: 182; Member since: Oct 14, 2011

Their smart to do it, if you get the government to sign off on buying millions of their over priced products.. that's guaranteed cash money in Apple's pockets..

5. InspectorGadget80 unregistered


4. Aeires unregistered

Google doesn't have the visibility Apple does? Struggling to believe that.

7. Mxyzptlk unregistered

It doesn't.

12. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

Google is still known for its web services, like search, maps, and gmail. Apple has a long history in education. So, I meant that in this area, Apple has much more visibility. Google is still trying to get people to take the Play Store seriously, let alone make a push to textbooks.

14. devildlm1

Posts: 71; Member since: Sep 12, 2012

In relation to textbooks, I wouldn't say that Apple has the advantage of visibility. The tablet OS is negligible when it comes to textbooks as long as the price is very similar. Also, the fact that schools are trying to save money would probably sway them more towards the competition. And are you serious about Google play store? I'll admit, security is a big issue but other than that,can you tell me whats wrong with it?

19. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

Not saying anything is wrong with the Play Store, but it is still basically in its infancy compared to iTunes. iTunes is established and people have no problem going there and buying stuff even if they don't have an iOS device. The Play Store just isn't that established yet. People aren't as used to buying things from Google as they are from Apple. It's getting there, but people are still more comfortable buying things from Apple or Amazon. Remember, it was very recent that the Play Store even started branching out beyond Android Apps. It takes time to build a customer base. If schools are trying to save money, why would they go with Android or Amazon when Apple has textbooks for $15 or less? I'd say Apple has the advantage of visibility for 3 reasons: 1) Apple's history in education. This has nothing to do with tablets, just the simple fact that Apple has been making deals with schools for 20 years or more at this point. 2) Apple spends more on marketing, much much more. 3) The mass media gives Apple free marketing because traditional news media is too damn lazy to explain Android, and would rather just say iPad to refer to all tablets. Google has geek visibility. Apple has mass market visibility. Big difference.

26. Izzy_V

Posts: 216; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

So... People trust apple to stay true to the promises they made prior to their greed-filled agenda. Their devices offer the most user-friendly interfaces/OSs and while it [apple] was helping education advance in the technological field and does have some of the best software for projects, etc., its offerings are mostly superficial, now. Google/Android and MS/Windows on the other hand offer more out of most of their software but only if the users learn more in-depth ways to use it. Unfortunately not many people bother to because apple gives them something that'll make their work "good enough" when it can go above that. Or did I misinterpret?

27. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

Businesses do what the market wants. People are paying Apple a ton for "good enough", so that's what Apple makes. It's an annoying business strategy, but unless people stop paying, that's the reality. It also doesn't change the fact that many casual users don't want to "learn more in-depth ways to use" Android or Windows. Some people want an integrated solution from hardware to software to textbooks. Some people prefer Apple, just because you don't like it doesn't change that fact either. Just like no one is going to change your opinions about Apple, you're probably not going to change the mind of someone who actually likes Apple products. Just respect people's opinions, it's that simple.

9. rusticguy

Posts: 2828; Member since: Aug 11, 2012

Yea sounds similar to "PIZZA is a VEGETABLE" episode few months back :)

17. RaKithAPeiRiZ

Posts: 1488; Member since: Dec 29, 2011

Apple Education- you mean brainwashing

18. speckledapple

Posts: 902; Member since: Sep 29, 2011

I am all for a revolution in education but I do not think Apple's closed system is the best way to accomplish that goal.

20. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

Maybe not, but I sort of doubt that open vs closed is a concern in most of the education system.

22. pikapowerize

Posts: 1869; Member since: May 03, 2012

too many bitter people... as long as they contribute to education... im happy for that!

25. Furbal unregistered

Classroom clouds with hand held WiDi screens so teachers/students are not locked into any proprietary stuff...

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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