Tech.pinions columnist Tim Bajarin believes that the announcement yesterday from Apple about creating tools for interactive textbooks was a landmark announcement. He lists four reasons for his opinion.
“The first is how these tools can impact education. …these tools will completely re-define how textbooks can be created and distributed. It is ideal for higher Ed textbooks but Apple and their major publishing partners are even doing high school level interactive books that should push iPads into education circles even faster.”
Second, he writes, is that iBooks Author lays the groundwork for non-education publishers to create interactive eBooks as well. He believes that the free authoring tool is a major step toward making Apple not only a publisher, but a distributor as well as delivering a hardware platform optimized for enhanced eBooks.
“…it won’t be long until mainstream authors start using these tools and use the iBookstore as their preferred distribution medium. And since these tools are so easy to use, authors who only write text-based content will begin playing with the integration of color drawings, illustrations and other media to enhance their story lines, which will only work properly on an iPad.”
Third, these tools give Apple a serious competitive advantage over other tablet vendors.
He writes, “The iPad is already the leading tablet, but by developing these rich authoring tools for creating interactive and enhanced eBooks for the iPad, it makes the iPad even more interesting to consumers and eBook readers from all angles. To date, Apple has sold about 70+ million iPads and we expect them to sell at least that many in 2012. This means that they are rapidly increasing their user base, which in turn becomes more attractive as an eBook publishing and distribution platform for all types of authors. This move really distances them from any other tablets on the market”.
Fourth, Apple has the potential to do to the publishing industry what it did to the music industry.
“Although Apple did not invent the MP3 player, they re-invented it and then created the iTunes store, which with the iPod, became the # 1 vehicle for digital music distribution. Today, Apple owns 75-80% of the MP3 player market even though many others have tried to duplicate their success. But they created the iPod, the tools and the distribution medium for digital music that helped Apple own that market. Yes, music is now available on smartphones, but it took Apple’s competitors almost a decade to replicate their success and even then, it had to come on a completely different digital device.”
Bajarin also believes that a lower cost iPad is on its way. He says, “…for Apple to really get iPads into education and leverage this new interactive eBook development platform, they will need to have some models with lower prices. Given the tight budgets of schools and families who could really use something like this to help their kids education, iPads will need to be much more affordable if Apple is going to ‘own’ this segment of the tablet market.”