I think it's obvious that mobile device OEMs should start at least thinking about shifting some of their efforts towards the institution-level, however I do think we're still a few years away before OEMs should begin making a full-court press towards these buyers.
I've said before that e-readers would be a lot more mainstream once they hit the $50-100 price point, which obviously now they have. Now the challenge will be figuring out a way to deploy such technology in a way that makes sense for a school district. Amazon is actually very well-equipped to be a significant player in this space as they already have things like EC2 and presumably it wouldn't be too difficult for them to eventually figure out a way to sell customizable and administratable Kindles to schools at a premium price.
On the other hand, perhaps Amazon is hoping that consumers themselves will buy the devices and end up using them for both school and personal use. And perhaps institutions will not get involved in purchasing the hardware directly and merely suggest that students buy their own readers. Actually, this approach seems more realistic.
Anyhow, like I said, I do think we're a few years away before mobile devices become a gigantic part of the mainstream education experience. But we're getting close.
DennisQ - I agree... it will be a few years away, and will likely follow regular consumer electronic purchasing trends - first movers will buy first, others will latch on, then it will ripple out to the masses once "best practices" have been passed along via the press, industry conferences or word-of-mouth experience. I think whether the mass distribution model starts taking seed in 2012 or 2014 will largely depend on how quickly device prices fall from 2011's levels, what's drafted into legislation, and how school administartors assess pros and cons.
Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if OEMs see more interest - at least initially - from the developing world. In places like Libya, Liberia, and other Northern African countries where the end of dictatorships and civil war will eventually lead to educational reforms and a need to literally re-write history books, it's easy to see how an e-reader, a tablet, or even a cell phone, which can hold thousands of book, may be a way to improve literacy and influence the shift towards democracy. In some ways, too, it may be easier for teachers in the developing world to move with technology; because they have such limited access to books but generally have access to mobile phone networks, they may have less 'emotional' attachment to printed materials being the standard tool for learning and adapt to whatever format the 'written work' comes in.
Like you said, there will likely be some cross-over marketing between institutional buyers and individuals who uses various devices in their personal/professional/school lives. The starting point may be different, but the end result may lead to the same place - more e-books in classrooms.
Jennifer, like smart class room, smart teaching methods also has to develop. Most of the B schools have their syllabus and prescribed or reference books listed in college website. Some other colleges are preparing soft copies of essay and short answers along with case study materials and distributing its through either USB or CD. I think this all methods are static and not dynamic. I think we have to think about some dynamic mechanism, where the class room chatting and presentations are to be communicated through handheld devices (PDA, Smart phone etc) in real time basis.
My biggest question regarding this is cost and availability. If schools want to replace books with electronic media, how do the kids get this material home? If they are assigned a tablet or e-reader, who pays for it? Parents are responsible if their kids destroy a text book, but what about a piece of electronics? I watch adults who handle their phones, laptops, and tablets like they are kids. Who's going to protect the reading device from thrown back packs or just being dropped?
There are many reasons why parents don't buy their kids some of these devices. I for one get nickel and dimed every time I turn around from the schools and sports, and I sure don't want to be responsible for how my kid handles school electronics that are assigned to them. And I certainly don't want to pay even more to have to buy these things, especially since I know how my kids treat their stuff.
This might be good for the companies selling it and it might make the schools look better, but there are other sides to the story that the schools won't bring up.
@jbond There are schools that buy laptops for the each student. Certainly, though, it is not yet universal, and what the district provides is subject to change. For example, several years ago, high schools started requiring scientific calculators that cost about $100 a piece. The year after I bought one for my son, the practice of the school providing it for each student kicked in.
@jbond, your concerns regarding who assumes the cost of replacing damaged, assigned e-readers/tablets is indeed a valid one: kids are kids, these devices will inevitably get lost or destroyed. And this is a big reason why the price point is so important and why e-readers have a huge advantage over tablets when it comes to educational use.
Losing a $200-$400 tablet is a big deal. Losing a $50-$75 e-reader? Not so much. And this will become less of an issue over time. The price of e-readers have dropped dramatically in just the last year or three... it's not unrealistic to expect $50 e-readers next holiday season.
And obviously until we get to the point where e-readers are near-disposable, they will not really be suitable for younger students: adoption will probably start at the college level and trickle down into High School. It'll probably be many, many more years until 1st graders are strolling around with "My First e-Readers."
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.