Article: Because Walter Said So

by on January 3, 2012

By now, you’ve probably heard that Apple is apparently planning a media event for later this month in New York, where we will not see the iPad 3 or Apple-branded television sets. Many are expecting some sort of announcement involving Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue, who was on hand for last year’s launch of The Daily.

This leaves many to wonder what Apple has up its sleeve—since Cue is in charge of things in iTunes-land, the obvious jump is something in that department and it seems that music, movies, and apps are in a pretty good state of affairs right now. That leaves the iBookstore, and it seems that jumping on the Apple-will-revolutionize-textbooks bandwagon is the thing to do:

One possible topic of the event is an expansion of the iBookstore to sell textbooks. In his biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson said the textbook industry was one Jobs looking to revolutionize with the iPad.

What’s funny is that Jobs also wanted to give away textbooks with the iPad, which I doubt the publishing industry would go for:

Finally, Jobs thought the iPad could revolutionize the textbook industry, and had considered a plan to include textbooks as a feature on the iPad.

“His idea was to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions, and make them a feature of the iPad. In addition, he held meetings with major publishers, such as Pearson Education, about partnering with Apple.”

He specifically wanted to make textbooks free and bundled with the iPad, and such a system would give states the opportunity to save money during the slow economy.

While I understand that everyone is trying to figure out what Apple is going to do next, I’m a little concerned that various Apple news & rumor sites are going to start pulling from the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, since it mentions other industries that Jobs was interested in working with. I know this may sound bitter, but I’d hate for this to become a trend (since we’ve already heard about an Apple-branded TV so much over the last couple of weeks).

Either way, it should be interesting, and my bets are going to be that it is something iTunes/iBooks-related, not because it was an item mentioned in the biography, but because historically, Apple doesn’t release hardware in the eastern time zone (Verizon iPhone 4 was an exception, but it was Verizon’s event), and a lot of the music/movies content on iTunes has already gotten attention thanks to iCloud.

Update: It looks like more information has come to light from Clayton Morris of Fox News fame:

  • This event will focus on iTunes University and Apple in education
  • I learned of the event back in September when it was originally scheduled for late Fall in New York but it was eventually postponed. 
  • The event will be in New York rather than in the Silicon Valley because New York is more centrally located for textbook and publishing. 
  • This initiative has been in the making for years. 
  • The announcement will be small in size but large in scope: a big announcement in a demure space. 
  • I expect at least two large project announcements as they relate to Apple in education. 
  • Steve Jobs was intinimately involved with this project before his passing. He gave a hat tip to the textbook side of this project in the Isaacson biography. 
  • This will not be a hardware-related announcement.  

I didn’t even think of iTunes U, although I know that Matt has mentioned it a number of times on SchwarzTech Radio.

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