Thursday, 19 January 2012

Apple Unveils IBooks 2 to Help Boost IPad Usage in Schools

Jan. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. introduced a service to make digital versions of textbooks available on the iPad and beef up the education content for the tablet computer as it gains popularity in classrooms.

The service, called iBooks 2, will help make textbooks more interactive with videos, animations and search features, Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of product marketing, said today at an event in New York. More than 1.5 million iPads are being used for educational purposes, he said.

With students, school districts and universities snapping up iPads, Apple partnered with publishers, including McGraw-Hill Cos., to add schoolbooks. The new service, built with personal involvement from Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs before his death, is designed to kick-start the nascent electronic-textbook business so a broad range of authors can make material available to students in a digital format.

Jobs, who died in October, took a personal role in securing the publishing deals. He met with Terry McGraw, McGraw-Hill's chairman and CEO, last year to gain the publisher's cooperation in the project, according to Vineet Madan, senior vice president of new ventures and strategic services for McGraw-Hill Education in New York.

"In that meeting they agreed on a similar approach and it made sense for us to try and work with them," Madan said. "We've been trying to push digitalized learning for years now, so Apple stepping into it more directly will create more awareness about what's possible with technology and learning."

The titles announced by the publishers focus on kindergarten through 12th grade students, with most priced at $14.99 or less. Apple is collecting 30 percent from each sale, according to Genevieve Shore, London-based Pearson's chief information officer.

Publishers can sell the digital textbooks at a lower price because rather than selling a print copy that's used for four or five years, digital versions are sold on an annual basis to each new batch of students, Madan said. A print book costs $65 to $85 each, Madan said.

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