How Apple is replacing Macs with iPads at school

Apple Event 10/4 18 iPad Education Tim Cook

Apple Event 10/4 18 iPad Education Tim CookSince the days when Apple was just a computer company, it’s prioritized the education market to some degree. Today there are plenty among us whose first time using a Mac was at school. But since the iPad arrived, it’s begun to supplant the Mac at schools. On the company’s earnings call Tuesday, CEO Tim Cook declared that the adoption of the iPad by educational institutions was “unlike anything I’ve seen in technology.”

Apple sold 1 million iPads, or two times as many iPads as Macs, to schools last quarter, and that’s despite “record” Mac education sales, according to CFO Peter Oppenheimer. Surely, the iPad 2, last year’s model that Apple kept around to sell for $100 less than the least-expensive new iPad, was a major factor in that. While more new iPads were sold overall, K-12 institutions buying the iPad 2 were an important force in driving total Apple sales of the iPad during the quarter to 17 million units, a company record.

“The adoption of the iPad in education is something I’ve never seen in any technology,” Cook said on a call with investors. “Education tends to be a conservative institution, but we’re not seeing that at all on the iPad. It’s been a big help for us.”

Besides price, one of the reasons students and schools are drawn to the tablet is that Apple isn’t just selling them hardware, but apps and services too. Apple introduced its iBooks education initiative in January, which included an updated iBooks app that specifically supports digital and interactive textbooks, a textbook authoring tool, and a dedicated iTunes U app.

But even before that, Apple had been distributing educational videos, lectures and course material for all ages through iTunes U. On the heels of Apple’s news about the iPad’s success in education, iTunes U is receiving a few updates too. As of Wednesday, any teacher can sign up to distribute courses via the service, instructors can set up private courses and invite specific students, there’s an updated note-taking feature that lets students easily track back to places in their notes that reference audio or video clips. And, since Apple is adding sharing to everything else, naturally you can also now share courses via Twitter, email or the Messages app.

Here’s the by-the-numbers breakdown of Apple’s education initiatives:

  • Sold 1 million iPads to schools between April and June — double the number Apple sold during the same quarter a year ago.
  • Saw 500,000 Mac sales to schools last quarter, an all-time record.
  • Still sold 2 iPads for every Mac it sold to K-12 and colleges.
  • 14 million iTunes U downloads since the app was introduced for iOS in January.
  • Since Apple’s big education and iPad initiative in January, 700 K-12 schools and 125 colleges have signed up to use iTunes U.
  • 750 courses have been added in that same time frame
  • There are 500,000 iTunes U audio and video files available for download.
  • iTunes U courses have been downloaded 750 million times.
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