The American technology firms Apple and Google are set to compete head-on with the launch of a bevy of products in the education arena. If Google was dominating the space with Chromebook laptops so far, Apple has come up with $299 iPad to challenge the dominance of the former.
According to a Bloomberg report, besides launching the iPad, Apple has also rolled out a new education service, Schoolwork to take on the might of Google's popular Classroom software. The new iPad is replete with a 9.7 inch screen and is priced at $299 specifically for the students while it is priced $329 for other users. What is more, the new iPad will support the Apple Pencil accessory, a first for a non-Pro iPad model, noted the report. New versions of its iWork productivity apps will work with the stylus, which comes at a price tag of $89 for students, $10 below the regular price, the report pointed out.
Apple Executive Greg Joswiak termed the new iPad ‘faster than virtually any Chromebook,’ during an event at a Chicago school. Apparently, this was the first time Apple held a product launch in the education segment since 2012 when it rolled out a tool for designing e-books for the iPad.
Interestingly, recently, ahead of Apple’s announcement, Google and partner AsusTek Computer Inc. announced a $329 tablet powered by the same Chrome operating system that runs Chromebooks. Most non-Apple tablets run Google’s Android mobile operating system, concurred the report.
Citing the data from the third quarter of last year published by Futuresource Consulting, the report said that Apple accounted for 17% of mobile computing shipments to the US students in kindergarten through high school, while devices running Google’s operating systems held 60% of the market, and Windows PCs had 22%. While Macs and iPads make up less than 20% of Apple’s sales combined, students and teachers are a key market to drive future purchases, it said.
Marketing executive Susan Prescott announced a new app called Schoolwork for iPads that helps teachers assign work and monitor student progress. The iPhone maker also rolled out a new service, ClassKit, which allows developers to write apps that integrate with the Schoolwork service. This will let teachers send students to specific parts of apps to conduct class work or access material. The new apps will be available in June, citing Apple, the report said.
What is more, Apple student accounts through schools will get 200 gigabytes of iCloud storage for free, instead of the regular 5 gigabytes. Google’s G Suite for Education service offers unlimited cloud storage, and new Chromebooks come with 100 gigabytes of free storage for two years. With the cheaper iPad and new education platform, Apple is aiming at capturing a larger pie of the education market, said the report and added that the lower-cost tablet could also help buoy iPad sales more widely.
While the iPad business recently returned to growth after multiple declining quarters, demand for tablets is tepid. Citing the research firm IDC, the report said that market constricted by 7% last year. Meanwhile, Apple logged a growth of 3% in 2017 and leads the industry with about a quarter of the market. A cheaper model that integrates Apple’s hardware with new services could help revive the tablet market, the report said and added that later this year, Apple is aiming at launching a redesigned iPad Pro with features from the iPhone X like facial recognition.
The new iPad still includes the Touch ID fingerprint scanner, versus Face ID 3-D sensor system on the iPhone X. But the tablet adds a new A10 Fusion chip which was first unveiled in the iPhone 7 in 2016, up from the A9 in the previous low-cost iPad. Apple also previewed a new feature, Smart Annotation that lets users annotate specific words on a page. An update to the Pages iWork app will also let users create their own digital books via the iPad, the report said.
According to Apple its Classroom student-management app for iPads will be introduced to Mac computers, and it is updating its Swift Playgrounds coding application with support for building augmented-reality apps. Apple also announced a new curriculum called “Everyone Can Create” that helps teachers conduct lessons on music, photography and video creation, the report said.
Steve’s Job’s Dream
Apparently, the software announcements aren’t Apple’s first stab in the education market said the report and added that Steve Jobs made schools a priority for Apple early in its life. But as the company has driven toward mass-market and higher-margin products in recent years, Google and Microsoft Corp., have had success breaking into classrooms with inexpensive laptops and tablets. In 2017, the global educational technology market generated $17.7 billion in revenue, citing the research firm Frost & Sullivan, the report concluded.