Technology gadget wars are going on all around us. From talking speakers to smartphones. From notebooks to wireless earbuds. From smartwatches to tablets. Wait. What? Tablets? Didn’t iPad kill the competition?
Not quite. iPad seems synonymous with tablets less than a decade after Steve Jobs launched the ‘just a big iPhone’ back in 2010 but the landscape has changed dramatically. iPad rose. iPad fell. Windows notebooks began to arrive with touchscreens and detachable keyboards. The tablet war is on again.
Education Is Cheap
Apple’s desire to hold onto the premium end of any product space means ceding the education business to Google and Windows hybrid tablet notebooks. The word on the streets says Apple will fight back against cheaper Chrome notebooks with a less expensive iPad but even more competition is on the horizon.
From Google in the form of Chrome OS tablets to ensure the ePad– my name for an iPad made for education– does not gain traction. Acer’s new Chromebook Tab 10 is aimed at education. It’s so new you won’t even find it on Acer’s website.
What you get is a very iPad-like device that runs Chrome OS– think Chrome browser as the operating system– with almost identical specifications as Apple’s 9.7-inch entry-level iPad. It’s a bit thicker, and a bit heavier, and it doesn’t come with as many apps as iPad users will find on the App Store, but it has the basics.
4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a microSD card slot, plus Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, an anemic front-facing camera, and a 5MP camera on the back. It has dual speakers, a headphone jack, and a USB Type-C port. Battery life is rated at about nine hours, so not that far from iPad.
$329. Same as the 9.7-inch entry-level iPad.
In general, Chromebooks are not only less expensive than Windows-based PC notebooks, but less expensive than iPad– with a keyboard included. And, Chromebooks are easier for schools to manage than iPad. How Chromebook tablets will fare in education remains to be seen but I see Apple, Microsoft, PC manufacturers, and Google going head to head in a mad dash for the bottom of the barrel with the lowest of low prices.
The idea here is that whoever wins the hearts and minds of students K-12 will win the techno-gadget battles of the future. Is there any proof for that notion? I don’t think so. Windows beat the Mac handily a decade or so ago and yet the Mac moved on to record sales. Chromebooks have altered Windows’ dominance in schools thanks to a cheaper than cheap price tag, but even students know you can’t accomplish much with the anemic applications on Chrome OS and even adding Android apps to the mix doesn’t make anyone any money.
Still, competition is a good thing and it’s a pleasure to see Apple working hard to maintain a presence in the K-12 space. Tablet wars are heating up again.