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Doubling Down on Education, Apple Touts $299 Tablets for Students
By Seung Lee
Posted: March 28, 2018 9:27am PDT

Apple is doubling down that the iPad will be the future of education. Apple unveiled a new, cheaper iPad model for as low as $299, aimed at students from elementary school to college. The new 9.7-inch iPads will be compatible with Apple Pencil stylus, feature Apple's second-latest processor chip and support for more than 200,000 education apps, Apple revealed Tuesday morning.

The iPad is available at $299 for schools and $329 for consumers. Students also will get a $10 discount for the Apple Pencil, costing $89. The school-focused price will be the cheapest for any iPad in the market.

Apple unconventionally chose to announce the new iPad outside of its headquarters in Cupertino and its past venues in San Jose and San Francisco, and instead hosted the product event at Lane Tech High School in Chicago. Chicago's public school district partnered with Apple last December to teach nearly 500,000 students how to code using Swift, Apple's in-house coding language.

Apple's latest event was a pushback to the growing presence of Google Chromebooks in classrooms across America. Chromebooks, which can be as cheap as $149 and support Google's software services such as Google Docs and Drive, now make up more than half of all computer shipments to K-12 classrooms in the United States in 2017, according to the data firm Futurebooks Consulting.

"We believe that our place at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts makes it possible to create and amplify our creativity," said Apple CEO Tim Cook. "This is something only Apple can do."

Apple's vice president of product marketing Greg Joswiak touted that the new iPad with its A10 Fusion chip was "more powerful than most PC laptops and virtually every Chromebook."

Google on Monday, a day before Apple's announcement, unveiled its Chrome OS tablet made by Acer. The tablet, like the new iPad, will sell for $329 for consumers.

While Apple's new iPad may not overthrow Google's dominant position in the American classroom in the short-term future, analysts say the new iPad still offers plenty for schools, teachers and students.

"If price point is the main priority, where you buy cheaper devices en masse, you are not going to look at Apple," said Creative Strategies consumer technology analyst Carolina Milanesi. "But if you are looking beyond the price point, the range of things (students) can use the iPad for is broader. The flexibility of the iPad is greater."

Apple also took a jab at Facebook, which is currently embroiled in another consumer data privacy issue after revelations that the political data firm Cambridge Analytica improperly collected data of 50 million Americans and used it for political means like Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

In Apple's new teacher-focused app called Schoolwork, where teachers can give students assignments and track their progress, the Cupertino tech giant said they won't be able to access their data.

"It's really important to us that you understand this data stays private," said Apple's vice president of marketing Susan Prescott. "Privacy is integral to everything we do at Apple."

Event attendees welcomed Apple's continuing strict stance on protecting data privacy.

"Too many companies in Silicon Valley made the customer the product," said Dean Hager, CEO of Jamf, a software company that creates management systems for Macs and iOS devices for corporations and schools. "Apple has never done and won't do that. They went to extreme lengths today with Schoolwork to explain that Apple has no access to the data inside whatsoever."

In addition to the new iPad, Apple highlighted new educational apps that support augmented reality, a technology that overlays three-dimensional graphics on top of real-world viewing. One example displayed on stage was the Froggipedia app, which allows students to virtually dissect frogs using an Apple Pencil.

Apple also updated its iWork productivity apps such as Pages, Numbers, and Keynote to support Apple Pencil. Apple announced it will upgrade its free iCloud offering from 5GB to 200GB for students and announced there will be a cheaper $49 stylus from Logitech, which will work with the new iPad.

For teachers, Apple said a beta version on the Mac of the Classroom app, which allows teachers to manage the students' iPads, will come in June. Before the Classroom app was only available on the iPad.

Apple also created the "Everyone Can Create" curriculum for teachers to be equipped with free learning resources and teaching guides inside the new iPad to help incorporate drawing, music, filmmaking or photography into their educational lessons.

In his keynote speech, Cook touted the March of Our Lives protest last weekend -- a student-led national protest for gun control -- as a symbol of the importance and the power of students.

"We've always believed that people with passion can change the world," said Cook. "We are deeply inspired by the courage of students using their voices to bring about change in America."

© 2018 San Jose Mercury News. Syndicated here under contract with YellowBrix, Inc. All rights reserved.

Tell Us What You Think


Posted: 2018-03-30 @ 7:02am PT
I think this product has no such specific purpose in the market. I think the old iPads are just doing well. It's Apple's new marketing policy to get students into their products.


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