Apple announced last week a major overhaul to its iBooks app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch they are calling iBooks2 which will allow textbooks to be sold and used on their devices.
iBooks in the past sold novels and other leisure reading, but this is the first time the application will support academic textbooks. Not only will students be able to read the textbooks , there will also be many interactive features, such as videos, games and quizzes, that a traditional textbook could not support.
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Apple has said none of the textbooks will cost more than $15, which is a far cry from the usual $80-$100 price tag for most academic textbooks. The company also already has partnerships with three of the largest textbook publishers in the United States: Pearson, McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt- which combined make up 90% of the textbook market in this country. This means that all of the content that is available in traditional textbooks now will likely be available digitally in the very near-future.
While there are some pretty obvious pros to the new iBooks2, looming questions also remain: Will Apple be offering discounts on their devices in order to lure educators/students in? Will school districts be expected to provide the technology to the students free of cost or will students have to pay for their own? iPads currently run from $499.00-$829.00, which is a significant amount of money to pay up front for a delicate item that a teenager may forget on a bus. Will students have to get external hard-drives to store the textbooks? The average textbook is about 1.5 GB which means that a student would fill up a 16GB iPad pretty quickly. Will this replace courses such as biology where a significant amount of the work is done in a physical lab? Will high school students never experience the sacred ritual of fighting with your lab partner over who has to make the first cut into the poor frog at the beginning of the dissection?
Apple is not the only player in the digital textbook market, Google, Amazon and others have all tried it but so far none have really taken off. Apple is surely looking to replicate the success and total market domination of iTunes with it’s re-launch of iBooks.
While obvious challenges and questions remain there is no doubt that iBooks2 is the future of education. It will take some pains, money and a significant overhaul in the way we look at education to get there, but
Part 1 of 3 in a series of posts related to marketing to the senses.
As humans, we have five senses: sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch. Marketers have basically been playing to those senses since the need for promotion began. Let’s take a look at some examples:
Sight.LIFE magazine sold millions and millions of copies by focusing on stunning photojournalism. Without that focus, some of the most iconic photos of all time would never have been seen.
Sound.Bose is so obsessed with producing and delivering great sound that it doesn’t publish its scientific research on the electrical or acoustic performance of its products. Instead, Bose considers the human experience the best measure of performance. Audiophiles will always debate who delivers the best audio quality, but we can all agree that Bose is thinking about the consumer first.
Taste. Most food and beverage brands try to dominate this sense, but few have done it like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s French fries, or KFC. The story goes that only two of Coke’s chemists know the secret formula of their syrup and that only eight people total have ever known it. Whether myth or reality, the story allows Coke to own “taste” among the soda brands.
Smell. One of the first brands that comes to mind for smell is Folgers and its well-known tagline: “The best part of wakin’ up is Folgers in your cup.” [Retro commercial here] Advertising told us that Folgers “crystals” smelled delightful in the morning, and I think we believed it.
Touch. Iconic advertising like “Don’t squeeze the Charmin” helped this brand capitalize on the sense of touch. [View commerical here] No one could take “touch” away from Charmin after these spots aired. Today, touch is just as important. Whether you love it or hate it, Apple also has mastered the art of “touch” with its iPod, iPhone, and iPad products.
Marketing to these senses isn’t just for adults. Youth marketers should also take a hard look at which sense their brand can claim.
Which youth brands do you think are doing a good job at owning one of the five senses? Comment below.
Will the new iPad from Apple revolutionize textbooks, or is it nothing more than a slow laptop with a hefty price point?
The tablet PC might be the proverbial nail in the textbook coffin. Angst over textbooks has been in the air on college campuses for decades, and e-readers and alternative delivery options have started building momentum (just look at Chegg). It appears that with the release of the iPad, textbook publishers aren’t going to sit this one out. McGraw-Hill, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, among others, have all indicated that their textbooks will be available on the device in the near future. The Kindle DX has already been tested with the college crowd. Kindle can’t claim victory yet, but I’m sure it has gained some valuable student feedback from which to build.
The iPad’s price will put it slightly out of reach for young consumers for awhile yet, but as the device becomes more prevalent, students will likely be migrating to the iPad or other brands that follow. The real question is: Will textbook publishers still be gouging students with their e-book versions? The convenience of having textbooks in digital form is just one selling point, but if publishers and Apple think that point alone will sell readers and e-textbooks, they should think again. It does appear that textbook prices will drop when offered digitally, so the savings could very well pay for one’s initial investment in the iPad. Nevertheless, price is the primary pain point for students that should be addressed. Students will also demand other features such as ala carte downloading of chapters and review sections with the ability to print and highlight text.
So, who has the upper hand here? Actually, professors do, and that’s because students have to buy the books they assign for class. And because professors are not typically early adopters of new technology, it may be awhile before students do their back-to-school book buying on iTunes. Maybe once students get a taste of this technology, they will step up and demand that their textbooks be on these devices at prices they can afford. After all, they have already pushed textbook rentals into reality and made it a viable business model to boot.