Apple and Education with Bradley Chambers

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

As I try to understand this market better, I’m currently finding it more helpful to ask questions and listen to what people have to say, rather than charge in and confidently make wild guesses about what Apple is doing right and wrong.

I previously asked my wife, a high school teacher, for her throughts and today Bradley Chambers was nice enough to answer a few of my questions as well.

What do you think about the pricing of the new iPad for schools? $299 is still more than some Chromebooks, but does it last longer? Will it have better performance?

Bradley: It’s unchanged from the 5th generation last year, so I don’t think the pricing matters a lot. A lot of this will depend on how the devices are being used. Battery is the obvious thing to go, but there are tons of variables. I think there might be a perception Chromebooks are cheaper, so perhaps students don’t take care of them. We’ve gotten to a point with iPads that even the least powerful one on the market is plenty of power for the majority of people

How long do schools hold onto hardware? I assume most schools don’t buy all new tablets/laptops every year. Related, do you have an idea of how many years you could get out of a new iPad vs a lower-priced Chromebook?

Bradley: We typically do either a 3 or 4 year lease. Again, it’s going to depend on how rough students are on them, how much they are used.

What do you think of the form factor of iPads in education environments? Is a keyboard basically an essential add on?

Bradley: It really depends on the use case. For report writing, yes. There are tons of other apps where a keyboard is pointless. It really just depends on what each class/teacher/school is using them.

Do you think a laptop running iOS at the same price point as an iPad + keyboard case ($399-ish) would be more appealing to schools?

Bradley: I don’t. Apple’s long term problems have more to do with overall services stack than anything else. The iPad made such a strong push into schools in 2011 because it was 1/2 the price of a MacBook. Now, $499 seems like a huge hurdle price point wise

Apple is addressing some software shortcomings with the new Schoolwork app this summer, but what do you think their biggest software/service opportunity is after that?

Bradley: The Schoolwork app is like fixing damaged floors before you fix the leak. I wrote about this a little bit more over at 9to5Mac.

In the piece he mentions in that last question, he has this line that stuck with me:

Renweb handles my student data (and offers a learning management system). G-Suite (Google) handles all of our email and document management. Right now Apple only provides the devices and the App Store for those devices, but not many of the services I need. Apple hypes that its all in on education. I want Apple to allow me to be all in on them.

Apple doesn’t have to own every software market, but the integration of hardware and software is kind of Apple’s thing, so it’s not good is educators are feeling a disconnect between the two. The more people I talk to and read about this stuff seem to have few concerns with Apple’s hardware offerings. $299 for an iPad is pretty good and the flexibility a tablet gets you is really convenient, but Apple needs to own more of the software stack if they want to move the needle in this market.