Apple Education Event Rumored to Be About Textbooks

By Ian Quillen — January 12, 2012 1 min read
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Like many of my colleagues who cover education, technology, or the places they intersect, I received this delightfully cryptic media invitation from Apple that reads: “Join us for an education announcement in the Big Apple.” And—per Apple’s typical MO—none of us know quite what to make of it.

The New York Times reported Apple will on Jan. 19 in New York announce a push into the digital textbook market, according to an unnamed source close to the company. All Things D reported that the announcement would likely involve an education-focused relationship between iBooks and iTunes U, two channels within the Apple brand.

(Personally, I’m hoping Apple actually launches the construction of a school shaped like an Apple that would dominate the New York City skyline.)

The bigger question, according to Mashable, is whether Apple’s new venture—in whatever form—will succeed.

Past evidence certainly suggests it will. Apple already has a wide swath of devotees in education who can fairly be categorized as fiercely loyal. More narrowly, Apple’s most recent game-changer, the iPad, has had greater success proliferating the education market than any other single device by any manufacturer in recent memory. And as Mashable reminds us, the same storyline generally holds true in Apple’s other endeavors, whether it be music, cinema, or telecommunications.

But it’s also possible that any new initiative could take time to trickle from the postsecondary or informal education to the more rigid K-12 world. For example, iTunes U remains a service used mostly by postsecondary students and educators, while most educational apps for iPhones and iPads are aimed at individual students and parents rather than formal educators.

And let’s remind ourselves no one has a perfect history of predicting these things. I mean, have you bought your iPhone 5 yet? Yeah, me neither.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.