Make no mistake, Apple's announcement of its new iBooks 2 for Digital Textbooks today wasn't quite as awe-inspiring as the unveiling of some of its past innovations.
The loss of co-founder Steve Jobs certainly contributed to that.
Still, the company which changed music with its iPod and mobile communications with the iPhone, said today it was offering software that would reinvent textbooks.
It was a project inspired by Apple’s late CEO Jobs himself:
“A lot may be wrong with education. One thing we hear louder than all else and where we can help is in student engagement,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s marketing chief.
“That’s why we get excited when students get their hands on an iPad. “The textbook is not always the ideal learning tool,” said Schiller. “Yet their content is amazing.”
As such, Schiller and his Apple colleagues showed off two new applications to take the information in textbooks and put it, in interactive form, on iPads and computers.iBooks 2, a free download for iPads, available from Apple’s app store starting today. iBooks Author is a tool he said authors and publishers can use on their computers.
The new interactive books would cost $14.99, far less than most paper textbooks. They could be updated continually, said Apple, without a programming degree.
Students will be able to “mark up” iPad books electronically, creating the digital equivalent of note cards as they go through lessons, and keep the iBooks when done.
Apple is partnering with three of the biggest publishers of school texts: Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, responsible for 90 percent of U.S. textbooks.
Will it be successful? Do you really have to ask?