Apple’s foray into textbook market met with mixed reviews

Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, speaks about Apple's plan to "reinvent" textbooks. (Photo by Mario Tama / Getty Images)

In its first post-Steve Jobs product unveiling on Thursday, Apple announced its plans to shake up the world of education with a series of new textbook products that could drastically affect how students and professors receive and disseminate information.

From today’s Los Angeles Times news article on Apple’s bold move:

With the new iBooks 2 app, students can download interactive textbooks to their iPads, usually for $14.99 or less, eliminating the need for … out-of-date, hundred-dollar textbooks. IBooks Author enables publishers and writers to create their own books using Mac computers and publish them to Apple’s iBookstore. And students can use the iTunes U app to receive course curricula, read textbooks, view presentations and lectures, and get assignment lists from their teachers through their mobile devices.

Some experts in the technology field were quick to applaud Apple’s latest venture, with Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff saying in an op-ed piece that the tech giant is about the change education forever.

But some in the education arena weren’t so sure about that. The Chronicle of Higher Education said Apple isn’t doing anything revolutionary, and writer Jeffrey R. Young suggests the impact will be limited because “[t]he book-building program runs only on Macs, not on PCs, and the resulting textbooks work only on iPads, not on competing Android tablets.”

Apple’s proposed lower price for textbooks surely will excite the student audience, but it remains to be seen whether or not Apple can alter the landscape of the textbook market as drastically as it did the music industry.

As if that weren’t enough tech-textbook news to wrap your mind around for one day, the Chronicle also reports that Wolfram Research — the brains behind the iPhone’s Siri feature — released its own education portal Wednesday, complete with interactive textbooks and other high-tech learning and teaching tools.

Stay tuned.

One Response to Apple’s foray into textbook market met with mixed reviews

  1. Much like Mr. Young, I made a similar prediction a few years back concerning Apple’s iPod, a somewhat bulky hard drive based device on which Apple purchased music would play, but then it wouldn’t play on many of the cheaper knockoff mp3 players out there. I figured, the iPod would die out.

    So, I’m inclined to give Apple the benefit of the doubt on this one.

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