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Opinion: Apple's move towards education

by Mingjie Jiang
 · 
Mar 27, 2018
 · 2 minutes read

So Apple just hosted their education-themed event in Chicago, which is one of the worst education districts in the United States. Despite the release of a “new” iPad (which, in my opinion, is really a “by-the-way” thing as it doesn’t really connect with education much except its support for Apple Pencils and Logitech Crayons), they also released a bunch, or an ecosystem, of apps for education. It is their response to Google’s Chromebooks and Microsoft’s Windows S or Office for Education.

I still think it would be super hard for Apple to share the cake of education with Google and Microsoft. Due to the fact that Microsoft and Google have already taken over so many school districts, Apple has 2 choices:

  1. Make their ecosystem exceptionally good (which I did not see during the announcement) so that schools would ditch their current ecosystem and switch.

  2. Sponsor schools. Build relationships with schools who are NOT currently enrolled in an ecosystem - but what kind of schools are they? A research claimed 9 out of 10 schools are now using technology, and the 1 that is not is probably one of those low-income zone school districts. Apple can’t really wait for that 1 school to reach them and jump into their ecosystem - they’re not going to.

The nature of Apple’s products might block themselves on this path. For example, the iWork suite uses a completely different set of format to save files, which can potentially be a problem for users without an Apple product. In short, they are back on the old track of “once Apple, forever Apple” to not only get more students in the Apple ecosystem but also get more school districts trapped in their cycle of products.

It is a risky choice for Apple to put so much effort into education. I really can’t envision what’s going to happen with their plan, but I don’t personally like their switch of focus to education.

And guess what, MCPS’s budget on Chromebooks in the 2018 fiscal year will be 23 million dollars. I can imagine that we have already spent millions on Chromebooks in the past 3 years… How would you convince a school district to switch to a completely new ecosystem when they have already spent tens of millions of dollars on another?

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