Apple is preparing to introduce new low-cost iPads and education software this week in a bid to win back students and teachers from Google and Microsoft, writes Mark Gurman.
In its first major product event of the year, Apple will return to its roots in the education market.
Tomorrow at Lane Technical College Prep High School in Chicago will mark the first time Apple has held a product launch geared toward education since 2012 when it unveiled a tool for designing e-books for the iPad.
It’s also a rare occasion for an Apple confab outside its home state of California.
In Chicago, the world’s most-valuable technology company plans to show off a new version of its cheapest iPad that should appeal to the education market.
The company will also showcase new software for the classroom, sources said. Apple declined to comment.
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 have had success breaking into classrooms with inexpensive laptops and tablets.
Last year, the global educational technology market generated $17.7bn (€14.3bn) in revenue, according to research firm Frost & Sullivan.
Apple accounted for 17% of mobile computing shipments to American students in kindergarten through high school, according to data from the third quarter published by Futuresource Consulting.
Devices running Google’s operating systems on Chromebooks or Android tablets 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.
A new, cheaper MacBook laptop is in the works and likely destined to replace the MacBook Air at a price less than $1,000, but it probably won’t be ready in time for this week. The MacBook Air, introduced about a decade ago, hasn’t seen a major change since 2010, the same year the iPad came out.
Although the laptop is popular with college students, it has languished as Apple focuses on more expensive Macs.
Rival laptops have made inroads into the education market lately, a field that originally helped Apple make its name. The sector is prized among industry giants because students learn to use a certain type of device, then head into the workforce and spread the technology wider.
With a recent advertising onslaught, Apple is hoping to capture more young minds with the iPad. The company has revised its tablet strategy over the years by releasing different versions at a variety of price points. That’s helped the iPad business return to growth after multiple declining quarters.
Still, demand for tablets is weak. According to research firm IDC, the market shrank by about 7% in 2017. Apple grew 3% last year and leads the industry with about a quarter of the market.
Apple currently offers a slew of different education-related software. The company’s Classroom app for the iPad lets teachers manage Apple devices that are assigned to students for their classwork.
There’s also an iTunes U app that lets teachers issue homework, grade assignments and post lessons online. It also lets students complete assignments and take tests. The company offers a software coding curriculum via the Swift Playgrounds app and sells interactive textbooks through its e-book store.
More software is coming.
Apple is working on a new version of the iBooks app that’s more in line with the design of the App Store, though it’s unclear if it’ll be shown this week.
In an invitation to the Chicago event, Apple said it will introduce “creative new ideas for teachers and students.”
Having a venue where attendees can see the new technology in action inside a classroom would be a sound strategy for a company that focuses its announcements on live demonstrations.
Chicago could see more of Apple in the future.
According to a recent Bloomberg analysis, the company could be eyeing the Midwest for a major new office.