Apple has introduced three free pieces of software revolving
around education in a bid to gain a share of the $8 billion U.S.
Apple wants students to stop lugging around backpacks full of
heavy textbooks and to switch to the iPad instead.
On Thursday, the company introduced three free pieces of software
revolving around education. It released iBooks 2, a new version of
its electronic bookstore, from which students can now download
textbooks; iBooks Author, a Macintosh program for creating textbooks
and other books; and iTunes U, an app that lets instructors create
digital curriculums and share course materials with students.
Digital textbooks made for iBooks can display interactive
diagrams, audio and video. The iBooks Author app includes templates
made by Apple that publishers and authors can customize to suit
Apple said electronic high school textbooks from its initial
publishing partners -- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill and
Pearson -- would cost $15 or less. That is much less expensive than
print textbooks in the United States, some of which can cost more
"Education is deep in our DNA, and it has been from the very
beginning," said Philip W. Schiller, Apple's senior vice president
of marketing, at the introduction event at the Solomon R. Guggenheim
Museum in New York.
Textbooks are a fat target for the technology industry. Sales of
electronic textbooks accounted for 2.8 percent of the $8 billion
U.S. textbook market in 2010, according to Forrester Research. For
publishers, the new partnerships with Apple were most likely
motivated by a desire to experiment with technology than to earn a
huge profit, said Sarah Rotman-Epps, a Forrester analyst.
Though the possibilities of Apple's new publishing software and
the iPad seemed to excite publishers, even those who are working on
iPad textbooks said it would take time for the technology to change
how most textbooks are purchased. First, there is the obvious
challenge of finding the money for schools to buy iPads, which start
at $500 each in U.S. stores.
"It's a very high and expensive hurdle to overcome," said Josef
Blumenfeld, a senior vice president at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Mr. Blumenfeld said that Houghton had seen high engagement levels
when students used an educational app for the iPad that it had
already published, and that it expected electronic textbooks to have
the same effect. …