Apple’s Education Push Is Great; But It May not Be Enough

Apple’s announcements around education yesterday were interesting. A new, less expensive iPad, retailing at $329 – or $299 for schools and students – makes the tablet a lot more affordable. But this may not be enough to get schools interested in making the switch.

Yes, Apple’s software improvements – to the iWork apps – are very school-friendly, but in order to truly take advantage of these apps, schools need iPads, pencils, and keyboards. Together, this runs about $450. Add to that the fact that the pencil is a device that is easy to lose, especially it’s cap which is held on by a magnet. Apple’s initiative looks like it will be great for private schools, or well-funded public school districts.

Apple is trying to fight off the onslaught that has replaced the iMac in schools. Google’s Chromebook offer an inexpensive way to give students access to computing devices, and the cloud-based approach is easy to manage. Acer just announced a Chromebook tablet for $329, but education pricing will certainly be cheaper, and other brands will be bringing out similar tablets at much lower prices.

And why not Amazon? I could see them getting into the education market with their Fire tablets. They’d need a better backend infrastructure – to store data, manage classes, etc. – but Amazon could certainly build this.

To be fair, Apple has the edge with its software offerings, not just iWork, but other apps that can be used on the iPad. But the price makes it just a bit too expensive for many schools.