As I half-jokingly tweeted last week following Apple’s iBookstore announcement about its e-textbook content, the company is betting that those heavy backpacks will be replaced with iPads. Despite tablets and e-readers doubling over the holiday season, as Time points out, many students still won’t have iPads to download e-textbooks. So, that leaves parents facing a $500 purchase or leaves school admins wondering how to budget for every student and do away with recycled books that have seen semester after semester. I can’t help but remember when I was in grade school, the thought of having to use the computer lab after class if my parents didn’t shell out some serious dough for a Compaq to finish homework, and it’s a stretch now to even think about having a “tablet lab.” Theft, anyone?
Also, Apple is going to have to make sure that existing curriculums have the digital equivalent in its environment to effectively profit from bulk sales, especially from the most populated states. Unless the company’s target market for these are private schools, then it will have to focus on more B2B opportunities because teachers will still likely have to offer alternatives to required reading in the form of print editions until the full transition to digital happens, if ever. This won’t jump overnight and Apple could choose to create an innovative lite edition (or something similar to the defunct enTourage eDGe) of the iPad targeted toward students that costs less and as a result, smaller and more mobile as well. How exciting.