As rich as Apple has become in recent years the company can still get knocked off a perch here and there. Schools. Where Apple once ruled the education world overall marketshare has dwindled to less than 20-percent. What happened? Price. Budgets. Costs.
Apple’s iPhone and Mac prices are too high relative to competitors. School budgets have been and continue to be slashed to the point where computers must be made cheap (which Apple refuses to do). Competitors have arrived with a lower total cost of ownership. Think Google and Chromebook.
The Domino theory is in full bloom here as Microsoft and Apple fear losing future marketshare to students who grow up on cheap, flimsy, inexpensive, and anemic Chromebooks– because schools could not afford real computers. Alright, all computers are real, but there are real differences between Windows 10 notebook tablet hybrids for schools, expensive iPads and Macs for schools, and dirt cheap Chromebooks that schools love because, you know– cheap.
Apple decided to reclaim some of that lost education marketshare and revenue with a very inexpensive– relatively speaking– iPad for schools. $299 for a full-fledged iPad with 32GB of SSD storage and all the usual components– Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 9.7-inch display, front and back cameras, Touch ID fingerprint sensor, blah, blah, and blah.
The company even went so far as to add drawing and annotation support to iWork apps– Pages, Numbers, and Keynote– and bring iBook Author to iPad. Oh, and Pencil support for the $299 iPad. And Pencil gets a $10 discount for students. I know. Big whoop, right? Bluetooth means any old half-way decent Bluetooth keyboard will work, too, so kids can learn to type, hunt and peck, or just draw and annotate.
Here’s the big deal for me. Apple outlined a plan to bring 200GB of iCloud storage to students with an Apple ID. For you and me, the iPad is $329 and Pencil remains $99 and iCloud storage is $2.99 a month– just pennies under $36 a year. For students, iCloud is free, so those 32GB models don’t look so anemic after all.
Apple tossed in some device management tools so schools could reduce the cost of managing devices– something Google does well with Chromebook, but we’re not really comparing Apple to apples here. Google gives 100GB of Google Drive storage with each Chromebook– for two years. Obviously, Apple wants to compete but doesn’t want to get its price tag and lucrative gross margins too dirty.
200GB of iCloud storage is good bait. So is a $299 iPad, but it would be more attractive with a built-in Pencil and keyboard.