Jim Dalrymple: “I’m annoyed at the reaction to Apple’s Education Event”
I’m a bit annoyed.
Apple on Tuesday held an event in Chicago focused on its education customers. They offered a total solution that included an iPad and software to make learning in the classroom better for teachers and students, but somehow they are getting severely criticized for all of the announcements.
I’ve seen things written like, ‘Apple should have purchased a textbook company and given textbooks to all students for free,’ and the ‘new iPad isn’t cheap enough’, and the ‘iPad is missing many of the features of the Pro version.’
Let’s be clear, Apple couldn’t buy a textbook company and give them away even if they wanted to—the antitrust issues are too large. It’s a nice pipe dream, but it’s not based in reality. Criticizing Apple for that is just unfair.
In its 40 years of being in the education market, Apple has never been the cheapest product—they never will be. I don’t know why people expect Apple to all of a sudden just give away iPads to schools or even compete against a product like a cheap Chromebook on price.
Apple doesn’t make cheap products. Ever. They also don’t make shitty products. You can expect the iPad to last for years without breaking or becoming obsolete. I expect the return on investment for schools to be quite high when purchasing iPads for the classroom.
Comparing the entry level iPad that is designed for students and consumers to a pro model is just silly. The features we may need as pro users are not the same features students will need in the classroom. If Apple could sell the iPad Pro at that price, I’m sure they would, but it’s just not feasible.
What Apple did was look at the iPad and decide what features were needed by students in our schools and then make the product as affordable as possible. I think they delivered that product. Do students need True Tone for their display? No. How about front and rear cameras? That could come in handy, especially for AR or a field trip, and the iPad has that.
Does anyone really think the Chromebook is as feature rich and durable as an iPad? I don’t think so, but it is cheaper. That’s about all it’s got going for it.
I was never a fan of Web apps either, even when Apple introduced them with the original iPhone. There is no way Web apps are a better tool than native apps on the iPad and the App Store has 200,000 education apps available.
I use both Chromebook and iPad Pro for work, and my daughter uses a Chromebook and an iPad as well, so I can be a bit of a devil’s advocate here.
First, I love the Apple infrastructure, so don’t take this to mean I don’t. My iPad is always with me, along with my iPhone.
Chromebooks aren’t entirely web app only these days, most of the more recent Chromebooks also have access to the android app store too which opens up what they can use.
Older Chromebooks do not have this feature, but for those that do, it’s handy.
If AR is the main reasoning for why an iPad is better than a Chromebook, what about when it comes to doing school work?
Typing on a tablet isn’t as intuitive as a keyboard, and the Apple Pencil is great, but it’s no keyboard, so then you have to include the cost of a Bluetooth keyboard for the iPad since it doesn’t have the smart connector.
But this is the entry level iPad so no smart connector needed.
Beyond just Chromebooks, a lot of schools are also using GSuite like Google Docs and Google Drive to do school work, students can then share a document with other students and their teachers.
Pages and Keynote might have sharing features, but they’d have to have those apps installed as well and the web app versions of Pages and Keynote aren’t too good.
While Jim may not like web apps, they are heavily in use, (I should know, I spend all day building web apps), and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Another handy feature for Chromebooks in education is management and deployment, being able to push an update to a student’s Chromebook is extremely handy and Apple is behind on this. School boards usually have their own people handling this for the schools, and not teachers.
As for schools, Apple is a premium product, but most schools don’t have the budget to outfit all their students with an iPad when one iPad can buy two or three Chromebooks depending on the model, this is important in education where most things are purchased with public funds and schools have to fight for funding.
Take a look at the success stories of students and teachers using Chromebooks.
iPads and Chromebooks both have their uses, both work well and do their jobs incredibly well. But don’t underestimate what a Chromebook can do.
Like I said above, I am a huge fan of Apple and their products, but in this area, it’s hard to defend them entirely.