Apple: Still the Low Hanging Fruit in Education

I can distinctly remember various uses of an apple logo when I was a kid in school. Of course these logos were of actual apples either hanging on a tree, or a worm coming out of the top dressed in a cap and gown, or some other iteration that signified the apple as a building block for learning.

Well, there’s been another apple that seems to have put down roots in the educational space and this root system is becoming much more fortified. According to the L.A. Times it seems that Apple was just awarded a 30 million dollar contract to supply iPads to every student in one of the largest school districts in the country. This vote to award Apple the contract apparently was unanimous (6-0).

In a time where the country is looking to streamline costs, the L.A. school system is bucking the trend a bit here and reallocating those dollars that are typically used for construction costs through bonds and are paid over many years. Another part of the controversy is that Microsoft was attempting to become part of that bidding process and willing to provide a substantial discount for their tablet options. I can definitely understand the financial implications when it comes to finding ways to cut costs without cutting value. Apparently Microsoft is offering deep discounts to schools between June 17, 2013 and August 31, 2013.

Courtesy of Microsoft

Courtesy of Microsoft

Microsoft’s cost breakdown:

Surface RT (32GB) – $199 USD (Estimated Retail Price is $499)
Surface RT (32GB) with Touch Keyboard Cover – $249 USD (Estimated Retail Price is $599)
Surface RT (32GB) with Type Keyboard Cover – $289 USD (Estimated Retail Price is $629)

On the Apple side however their cost breakdown comes in at a flat $678 per student. It seems that these iPads will also be loaded with educational software, but there aren’t any full details as to the exact value that these will add to that price.

Another argument by Microsoft:

“A Microsoft representative urged the board to pilot more than one product and not to rely on one platform. Doing so could cut off the district from future price reductions and innovations, said Robyn Hines, senior director of state government affairs for Microsoft.

Hines also noted that more businesses still use Microsoft platforms, and that students should be exposed to machines they will encounter in the workplace.

‘A one-size-fits-all approach’ would limit important options, she said.”

This is where I have to start to disagree. Personally I’m seeing many (if not the majority) of Apple products making their way into the educational system and the business world. Our kids attend a school where the administration, teachers, and all of the children use Apple products, namely an iMac or Macbook. Growing up in a digital age has definitely shortened the learning curve with the various platforms, so in my opinion I’m not sure this has much weight to it.

Is Microsoft feeling the effects of Apple’s growing root structure in the commercial space? I’d care to wager on that one.

Now before you go off and think I’m a fan boy, well actually call me one if you so desire. I am indeed an Apple consumer. I also use Android heavily in my personal life and businesses. The initial investment that my first company made when we switched over to iMac’s and Macbook’s was significant. The “Apple Tax” can sure take a bite right out of your bottom line, but I can honestly say that our return on that investment has been ten fold. In the last four years we haven’t had to replace one single device and the operating system alone has allowed us to increase productivity by almost half. Slowly, other businesses are starting to realize these same gains and that root system will continue to grow.

Depending on where you think my Apple fanboy status is, let me also put in an additional plug for using what works in your industry. Android has over 50% of the smartphone real estate, but there are many factors such as how many devices carry the Android OS. I am however most likely part of a very small subset of Android users. I like my apps to jump off the screen and get things done (figuratively of course) and this is where I think iOS has lagged behind, but again only for a small user base. iOS is very intuitive and a quite productive platform. It’s just that the upcoming iOS7 platform Apple recently announced is essentially where Android has been for better part of two years now. But, the iOS platform just works and it works well. It seems as if the L.A. school district is banking on that sentiment also.

We can all benefit from healthy competition and I’m still advocating for the healthcare industry to start adopting the Android platform as I feel that this system is just as intuitive as iOS, but that’s for another article. Should the L.A. school system have carefully considered other options? Of course, but I can only speak from my own experience that I’ve adopted the Apple platform (sans iPhone) and haven’t regretted it in the least. Apple has just done an incredible job at reaching the masses and it looks as if it’s going to be the low hanging fruit for quite some time.


Feature image courtesy of: Kaya the worm strikes again.

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