Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Apple iPad rumors, Netbooks, and Commodifcation

Jeremy Horwitz’s rumor post from Monday on iLounge, “Ten New Details on the Apple Tablet,” contains some tantalizing predications from an allegedly reliable inside source:

  1. 10.7” screen
  2. 2 versions: 1 with 3G and another without
  3. Announcement date: January 19, 2010
  4. Sale date in May or June 2010

This, however, was the prediction which generated the most thinking for me:

It is not meant to compete with netbooks.

That prediction may come as a surprise to some folks, but it makes a lot of sense and follows the pattern of behavior we’ve seen from Apple for years. In my July post, “Thoughts on Macs and Netbooks,” I shared some of my own cognitive wrestling inspired by the availability of more powerful and less expensive netbooks in the past few years. Reading Naomi Klein’s book “No Logo” has further clarified for me Apple’s understandable desire to avoid the commodifcation of laptop computers. According to the current English WikiPedia entry for this term:

…the business community more commonly uses commoditization to describe the transformation of the market to undifferentiated products through increased competition, typically resulting in decreasing prices.

According to Klein, most large corporations today are focused more on branding than they are on selling products. Of course corporations must sell products for profitability and want to, but their greatest desire is to WIN consumers over to their brand. If someone is “won over” to a particular brand, s/he can be counted on to be a loyal customer for years into the future. We certainly see this with Nike, and I think the same argument can be made to an extent for Apple. Where the Nike “brand” is really more of an ephemeral facade, however (how much difference is there REALLY in a hat or tshirt that sports a “swoosh” and one without) there ARE big differences between computer hardware platforms which run the Mac OS and those which don’t. This is the main reason I predict we’ll continue to see Apple vigorously oppose widespread hackintosh efforts.

iPhone xray

As school leaders continue to consider how to make best use of limited funds to support 1:1 learning initiatives, the critical issue to consider in my mind when purchasing a wireless digital device for 1:1 is the following: To what extent does the digital device empower students to not only CONSUME content, but also CREATE, COMMUNICATE, and COLLABORATE? Those “3 C’s of 21st Century Learning” are the keys. The second, equally important question to consider involves support: How robust and speedy will my support from the vendor be?

Will the forthcoming Apple iPad (or whatever it ends up being called) meet that litmus test? Time will tell. I’m amazed how much content I can easily create and publish NOW on my iPhone 3GS. If the non-3G version of the iPad has still camera and video camera capabilities with a microphone, it’s likely I’ll be pretty enthusiastic about it. “Not competing with netbooks” seems to suggest the pricepoint may be considerably higher than $200 – $300, however. What will that mean for schools and 1:1 programs? Time will tell.

H/T to Gizmodo for the iLounge article link.

ADDITION: Put together the following puzzle pieces and what do you get?

  1. The latest iTunes and iPhone/iPod Touch firmware update (3.1) creates a new category of media content for iTunesU.
  2. Gizmodo’s article yesterday, “Apple Tablet To Redefine Newspapers, Textbooks and Magazines
  3. A powerful quotation from that article:

    … Apple is in talks with several media companies rooted in print, negotiating content for a “new device.” And they’re not just going for e-books and mags. They’re aiming to redefine print… The logic here is that textbooks are sold new at a few hundred dollars, and resold by local stores without any kickbacks to publishers. A DRM’d one-time-use book would not only be attractive because publishers would earn more money, but electronic text books would be able to be sold for a fraction of the cost, cutting out book stores and creating a landslide marketshare shift by means of that huge price differential.

Can you say, “disruptive technology?!”

My biggest problem with this vision of the future? I don’t want a “one-time use textbook.” I want to keep my textbook and do whatever I want with it. Are Open Educational Resources going to be accessible from the iPad? I hope so!

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One response to “Apple iPad rumors, Netbooks, and Commodifcation”

  1. Dave Winter Avatar

    Just Looking at your post the use of google docs on the ipod touch. I guess I see the communicate and collaborate as easy to achieve and to be truly creative a little bit harder. Some characteristics in my schema of this are originality, artistic expression, design and engagement. Digging a bit deeper we can have creative solutions, innovations and ideas that may be constructed more simply and use tools that exist beyond the Apple wonderland. Mark Osborne a new zealand educator who supports The FOSS community talks about the content having the ability to be open. I envisage creativity being generated from communication and collaboration. Why? Because creativity is a little bit more of a discipline than it would appear on face value and because to innovate something need to change our thinking. With a google presentation I feel I have a chance of being as creative as with keynote, powerpoint etc despite its clunkiness. I am facilitating a workshop on 1 to 1 at ulearn this week. I would love to have some input into notes or even slides themselves email me at dave dot in2it at gmail dot com and I will share the presentation with you as a collaborator.