Following a growing trend in higher education, the University of Western Sidney will give all new students who enroll in 2013 an Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad. According to a statement,the University will distribute 11,000 iPads to new students and academic staff in order “to support learning and teach innovations across the curriculum and in informal learning environments.”
It was pointed out that the latest generation of the iPad was geared at three markets: education, enterprise, and consumers — and arguably in that order. After selling 17 million iPads in the second quarter, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said, “While interest in the new iPad was high, sales of the reduced price iPad 2 in the K-12 markets were particularly strong, and even though we achieved all-time record Mac sales to U.S. education institutions during the quarter, we sold more than twice as many iPads as Macs to U.S. education institutions.”
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There’s a long list of reasons why educators would prefer the iPad to a more traditional computer, and many of them are obvious. Price and convenience top the list — tablets are both cheaper and easier to transport than PCs — as well as the smooth transition from traditional books to e-books, which bring a whole world of enhanced features for teachers to play around with (and tend to cost less, too).
Services like iBooks Author are pretty much set to turn the whole world of textbook publishing on its head. The savings that educators see as a result of digital and self-publishing alone could justify the purchase of 11,000 iPads. Flexibility, cost, and connection are king in education, and Apple can provide exactly the kind of platform that educators need.
“With digital technology revolutionising how we connect and interact with the world, university study should be no different,” Professor Kerri-Lee Krause, the university’s pro vice-chancellor (Education), told The Australian.
But Apple’s not the only game in town. Both Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) have their eyes set on the market. All of the arguments that make the iPad a revolutionary device for education also apply to its competitors, and they have wasted no time building attractive services for teachers. These services include discounted prices on bulk application purchases and support for large-scale software distribution. Many of Apple’s competitors also beat the iPad on pricing.
Different colleges will have different needs and different budgets, but a sort of critical mass argument applies here in favor of Apple. If the company corners the market early, as it appears to be doing, then the best services will be developed for the platform, sweetening the deal for colleges looking to adopt tablets in the future.
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