Schooling: Learning about Apple’s chances in the education market


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Apple held an education event in Chicago this week and, as you might have expected, they got everything wrong.

Writing for the very nice people and alien heptapods and large animal veterinarians at Business Insider, Troy Wolverton doth declare “Apple’s new iPad is a total misfire that shows how out of touch the company is with schools and kids.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Gerald.)

“Total Misfire” is the name of the Macalope’s synth metal band.

Apple’s executives seem to have forgotten anything they ever knew about kids.

This explains why Bob Mansfield stuck several children in his mouth in a vain effort to understand them.

They also seem to have completely lost touch with what’s going on in the education market.

Hey, come on. Tim Cook walked through a school in a green and yellow letterman jacket with “Tim” written on it in curly script. If that’s not cool for school, then…

Well, OK, yes, that is not cool at all. Fair point. That is a look that does not so much scream “I am cool, kids!” as it does “I am in a bowling league on Friday nights!”

The crux of Wolverton’s argument is that iPads cost too much and are too fragile compared to cheap and plastic Chromebooks. It’s certainly true that even the new iPad isn’t going to decimate Chromebooks’ position in the education market, even at just $299. Schools will really need to add a keyboard case and pencil which, if they’re going with Logitech’s offering, is an additional $148. When Chromebooks start at just a dollar more than that, no, Apple isn’t going to take that much market share.

Market share.

Yes, it is 2018 and Business Insider is still writing “Apple needs to chase market share at the expense of profit!” on all of its checks.

Chromebooks meet schools’ needs; iPads don’t

Chromebooks meet schools’ general needs for writing, research and standardized testing. But they do fall down in some areas where the iPad excels. You can’t draw on a Chromebook and you can’t run AR apps on a Chromebook. Oh, and you also can’t keep a student’s data private on a Chromebook. There’s that little detail that goes completely unmentioned in Wolverton’s piece.

But, Macalope! No one cares about privacy! Particularly for, uh, child… uh… …ren? Errrrr… Well. Yes.

Yeah, read this thread detailing the kinds of information Google keeps track of ask yourself if you’re completely A-O-K with them having any of that information about your kid. Google is squirrelly about what it collects on students and this is a cost just as much as a keyboard is, it’s just one that rarely gets accounted for.

Wolverton is not wrong that Apple didn’t announce anything this week that’s going to allow it to take a huge amount of market share from Google. But, as Bradley Chambers points out, it’s less about price and durability and maybe losing a Pencil than it is about Apple not looking at the whole problem with technology in schools and working to reinvent the bigger problems of administration and identity management. Until then, instead of teaching Orwell, maybe schools can just talk to the kids about the implications of using a system run by an advertising company.

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