With the iPad 3 on the imminent horizon, there are plenty of rumors floating around. A new Sharp screen and some new case leaks. The only problem I have with this new release is, we just watched Apple talk about iBooks 2 and how they are going to revolutionize the text book industry and start keeping the educational system up-to-date with these interactive books and signing on the 3 BIGGEST producers of these textbooks. The other thing that seemed to be revolutionary was the price, with “most being priced at $14.99 (USD) or less. This overall is a wonderful idea in my opinion, and helps compact the 40 pound backpack that these poor kids have to lug around. This is great as far as the weight it relieves from the kids and how quick these text books can be updated. The two fold problem as far as the consumer and the educational sector will have to deal with, is price and availability/upkeep.

Price

Will the price of the iPad hinder many school systems from being able to use this great technology? The cheapest iPad is $500. Just imagine, that is one per student. Can you imagine sitting in a budget meeting for oh say, 2014 and there is a new sector: iPads (I would hope that it replaces hardback textbooks part of the budget all together though). This would be expensive! Let’s just say we have a school of 1200 kids.

The next step for me, would be, how do we implement this? Does every student get one for the school year? ($600,000) Do we add this to the school fee? Do we buy these and keep them in the building? Do we have one for every teacher? There are many more questions that come along with implementation, but just imagine trying to get all of these questions answered and then seeing how much it would cost the local school system. Then whether or not they could afford it!

My thing about it, would be: Why isn’t Amazon capitalizing on this market? They have a $200 tablet and it works! They could kill Apple in the educational market. Plus, the Kindle Fire doesn’t have any cameras on it or 3G, which helps keep down the cost of the final product. So for this fact, kids aren’t trying to use cameras in class or able to use these things on the go. It would only be useful around wifi, which for a typical kid (not all) these days is at home, school and the library, and the occasional restaurant.

I see Apple taking over this market, because no one has really come out with the “iPad killer”, but the Kindle Fire, I would say has given it a run for its money. The money issue just seems to hinder some of these schools that need technology like this, from being able to chime in on this. So if Apple works out a deal where the schools get a discount for ordering so many for their schools or even districts, then I would be more prone to say that price isn’t an issue, but who’s to say, it will be many, many years before we see iPads as the norm for textbooks.

Availability/Upkeep

The other problem I foresee is Apple has historically updated these things every year. Can the school systems keep up with that? What’s my opinion? NO! Schools like to make an investment and see ROI. I just don’t see the school systems trying to keep these things up to date. Apple on the other hand likes to keep the new, old. By that, I mean, they are constantly updating, the iPhone, iPod touch and the iPads have all been somewhat close to a yearly refresh rate. Most schools and businesses are either on a 3-5 year plan. They like to see more use out of the product than they are worried about refreshing it. I could see in the future that like iPad 7 is out and some schools still using iPad 2.

As far as a bleeding edge consumer is concerned, this is great, get a new toy every year. Even the non-bleeding edge, because they are usually right behind the bleeding edge and getting last year’s model at a reduced price. Schools and businesses are not worried about being on the bleeding edge. Shoot, the business I work for currently still massively supports Windows XP (original market release 8/24/01) and have a very little amount of machines on Windows 7, which coincidentally is almost 3 years old. (original market release date 10/22/09) This is how companies work, that are not technology based. They want to be able to use their investment for a very long time, which Windows XP has proven to be.

In Conclusion

Will Apple be able to keep these iPads up to date with just software? Will they pressure these school systems (and businesses) to have to update every other year? I have found personally, that every other year is good with Apple. For example, I bought the iPhone (2G), then the 3G, because of the speed increase on data. I skipped the iPhone 3GS, a year later, and look what I got for an upgrade, the iPhone 4! As previous, I skipped the iPhone 4S, and who knows what is coming for the iPhone 5. Again, historically, the iPhone has been good for me, to follow this pattern. The pattern may not always be that way, but for the last 5 phones that Apple has produced, I have stayed with it and it works for me. Will the schools have to start following that same pattern? Will Apple always follow an AWESOME Product then a speed bump, no hardware changes, then AWESOME Product change format? Who knows? Only time will tell, but these are just my thoughts and musings.