Category Archives: MacBook

The New PC Revolution

I was intrigued by my own response to the Apple product announcements yesterday. How does that work? Well, I allowed my own technical interest to play out. I watched the product announcement video, I critiqued the Jobs-less Apple presentation as any Apple fan might do. But then I stepped back and evaluated what I had seen and what my gut reactions had been. And I believe I sensed a turning point similar to what I witnessed when the PC finally emerged as the option for the masses back in the early eighties.

Apple’s new products are beautiful and carry an even higher “cool factor”, but I think the difference now is the status difference that emphasizes affluence over practicality. I caught myself asking “why do we really need such a thin iMAC with a retina display that will cost approximately $2000. Sure some power users can justify the specifications, but I sensed a new arrogance from Apple, one that says we only care or cater to the affluent buyer and if you have concerns about being locked into our platform then tough, we don’t need you. Why haven’t I felt that before.

  • Was it because the Apple products were so superior that cost was not a factor.
  • Was it the fact that I don’t really see a difference with the retina display.
  • Was it the lack of attention to even offer low cost options.
  • Was it the $329 entry price for the iPad Mini.

Yes, probably so.

If I wear my Higher Education hat, I start to question whether the recent trend of students preferring Apple laptops is still healthy in these turbulent financial times. I see the student with a white macbook as the Kmart shopper and the those with aluminum models the Neiman Marcus shopper. I see our entitled students as being concerned about this. Nothing wrong, this is who we are, but I sense that the split in the road is now pronounced. Apple only wants the high road and the profit margins that come from that market segment. Do we in Higher Education need to shift our focus to the affordable consumer market that appears to be dominated by Google based platforms?

I think the door is still slightly open for Microsoft to hold onto the corporate workplace, but it won’t be because of an Office Suite but can be about professional applications. Let’s accept the fact that a Pad computing device is more then adequate for working with today’s cloud based information. I believe we will see affordable smart computing devices appear in the hands of the consumer masses worldwide. This is a movement that redefines the Personal Computer, “PC”.  And with it, we will have an even greater need for techies to maintain computing sanity.

Students are starting to pick up their iPads

The new year is upon us and interest continues to mount concerning the iPad option we have offered our new students. So we started handing out MacBooks or iPads to the new students here early for athletics and there seemed to be more then 10% picking up their iPads. Maybe a correlation here? Anyways, I did get to ask a number of them why they chose the iPad and the answer was always that they already had a computer so they felt lucky to have the option to get an iPad. They had total confidence in what it was going to do for them and seemed to understand the limitations. I do think our pool of students that have selected the iPad will be an interesting group to study in that they all had the freedom to choose, hence, are probably highly motivated to utilize the device. I sensed that the students with iPads will not be shy about using them (pride in their selection) which will give us interesting comparisons to our traditional Macbook users.

Next Thursday the fun will really begin when the traditional freshman show up. It also sounds like a number of media folks will be around hoping to capture some quotes from some of these students. Still the unanswered question: “Do you think the iPad will allow you to benefit from E-Textbooks?”. Well yes if there were E-Textbooks.

iPad’s goal for the coming year

The common question I get now is whether the iPad will make a significant difference in Higher Education. And the answer is, yes if it was allowed to. The iPad is a more effective casual computing device, I now prefer it over my MacBook Air, which is the greatest laptop I have ever owned. But that is the problem, I place myself in a high competency computing demographic which Apple has already experienced great progress in transitioning to their MacBook line. True the MacBook is the best computing device for my demographic but we also see the tremendous potential for the iPad. It is a better computing device, but without multitasking and effective interaction with the outside world for file sharing and printing it has not been allowed to replace our MacBooks. This is entirely Apple’s decision and yes it is a good business decision.

Today Apple made sure that the iPhone would move to the next level of dominance with a glimpse at the key features of the 4.0 OS. And by delaying important upgrades to the iPad they confirm their business strategy. A strategy, by the way, that is brilliant but frustrating to me. Apple is going after an entirely different demographic. I would call it the users who have someone in their household capable of supporting a PC. These PC homes are frustrated with the value they have gotten out of this supposedly powerful computing device. Vista frustration, virus management and the many other issues have left them questioning their path to the internet. All they want is email and FaceBook, but reading a book online or innovative gaming is the open door to their exploring this new device called an iPad. Boom – Apple easily grabs this demographic and extracts maximum profit. But they have to keep my demographic out of the equation because we will confuse the general consumer platform.

Back to Higher Ed, students will or would love the iPad. However, the gatekeepers (faculty) to promoting the iPad are far to strictly dependent on features that are absent in the iPad, hence, the iPad will not be an easy adoption for students. It will still be positive for the select group of students capable of dealing with these restrictions. But it is a shame the real value of the iPad for Higher Education is probably being kicked back a year.

Looking forward to next year’s iPad to MacBook comparision

It has been about a month since we decided to offer the iPad as an alternative to the laptop that we have been giving out to our students for many years. There have been mentions of this by mostly technology publications around the world with many comments ranging from concern to praise. And of course there has been a fair amount of discussion on campus about what this really means. Actually the greatest advantage for us is that it has forced our programs to consider what their minimum computing requirements are so that they can properly advise their students about whether they really need a laptop or not. We have no idea what the adoption rate for iPads will be but we know there is excitement growing especially with incredible hype that has been accompanying the scheduled release of the iPad this coming Saturday.

What struck me tonight as I was thinking about all of the standard interviews that I have been giving is that the most interesting aspect of George Fox giving out iPads will be the direct comparison to the MacBook. It has been interesting observing faculty consider and realize that the iPad probably can do all that they require. Unfortunately as I have mentioned before this is not exactly what Apple wants explored at this time in Higher Education. But this may be really interesting in that our university has totally defined the usefulness of a laptop and in recent years the MacBook for support of academic technology needs. Next year we will get to compare the experience of those who select the iPad with this wealth of laptop experience.

It is time to recapture efficiency and affordability

It has been very interesting discussing our newly announced option to offer the iPad as an alternative to the MacBook that we have given out for our laptop program in recent years to incoming freshman. Overall most people think it is great to offer choice and understand that it may offer a healthy change for higher education. That change may just be that a microcomputer offering Microsoft Office is not necessarily the de-facto standard for a successful college experience. I’m kind of excited about the possibilities. We are making a change to our laptop program because of market conditions, but it may turn out to be a liberation of a far to long stranglehold that has suppressed creativity in the American Higher Education system.

A few faculty members have jumped to conclusions that they will have to change their curriculum since some students may not have Microsoft Office, specifically Word, on the iPad. Say What? At that point I ask a few more questions which clarify that all they really require is that students turn in certain assignments in the common format typically MS Word. I understand that concern, a common format allows a professor to be assured that they can properly grade all assignments. Many have no idea that producing that format is not dependent upon using MS Word. They are still skeptical that Google Docs could actually be an option but when they realize that iWork Pages could be they start to realize that choices for word processing might be a good thing for a student.

Students don’t know that they have options. They use MS Word because we tell them to, but most admit that they don’t care. They do admit that all they need is a program that captures what they type and that spell checking is a good thing. I am not trying to bash MS Word here, I am bashing the suppression of their creativity that has been perpetrated by a belief that a successful career is based on proficiency in using MS Office. Good grief, we educated generations with slate and chalk or paper and pencil. It is time to recapture efficiency and affordability. If later a student discovers that it is important to use a program with format commands embedded inside format commands that link to a suite of applications to produce some incredible masterpiece so be it. But for now let’s just get back to writing and arithmetic with affordable flexibility.

OH yes, this post was seamlessly pasted into Blogger with a direct copy from the iWork Pages program. Just think how important that really is in this emerging world of open Internet publishing.