Remember Oregon Trail on the Apple II? Lots of current adults do, because Apple used to make their computers affordable for schools.

The idea was to get kids used to the platform, so they’d be more likely to buy Apple products as adults. It really feels like that’s worked out, but in 2018 kids are more likely to use Chromebooks in class than an Apple product.

That’s no small part of why Apple held their “Education Event” today: they want to win that market back. Here’s M.G. Siegler, writing for 500ish:

…a funny thing happened on the way to Apple becoming the most valuable company on the planet. They seemingly stopped caring about the schools. They’ll deny this, of course. But at the very least, they certainly stopped caring as much about the market. To see this, look no further than the inroads Google has been able to make with Chromebooks. And fittingly, even Microsoft has now broken in to the schools in a meaningful way. Hence the need for Apple to hold an education-focused event.

So how did Apple do? First, the Mac barely came up at all, other than mention of some macOS software tools for teachers. Apple’s vision of education is one where students have iPads, and use it for most of their work.

So naturally the centerpiece of this event was the new $350 iPad, which costs $300 for schools. It’s a decent discount, and my colleague Eric Ravenscraft outlined the new model nicely:

Despite the heavy focus on education, the biggest news is that there’s a new iPad and it’s got a lot of features that used to be exclusive to the iPad Pro. It’s still $329 (or $299 for schools) but you can do a heck of a lot more with it now than you could with the old version. If you want a new iPad for your students, or just for yourself, now’s a good time to take a look.

I get what Apple is trying to do here. But this is still a really expensive pitch. Sure, the iPad cost “only” $300. But the pencil costs $100 more, and you’re probably going to want a keyboard so kids can actually type on the thing.

I suspect most school districts, with tight budgets, are going to see $200 Chromebooks and not give Apple a second thought. Apple is for well-off districts. Nothing announced today changes that in my mind.

Justin Pot Justin Pot
Justin Pot has been writing about technology for over a decade, with work appearing in Digital Trends, The Next Web, Lifehacker, MakeUseOf, and the Zapier Blog. He also runs the Hillsboro Signal, a volunteer-driven local news outlet he founded.
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