In search of things new and useful.
An Industry Reborn
Like millions of others, I was watching intently as Steve Jobs unveiled the new IPad.
I’m definitely getting one. I honestly don’t think I know exactly how I will use it, but I know I will… a lot.
It’s always hard to predict exactly what impact a device like this will have, especially before it’s been in the hands of users. But one thing I do know is that at least one old, tired industry has finally woken up to a new day.
I’ve blogged about how baffled I am with the textbook industry before. It’s amazing to me that 10 years after Half.com (and 10 years since the end of encyclopedias), the best that we have is Chegg and its imitators. And 10, 50, 75 years before that, our grandparents and great grand parents were educated by the same old textbook product used in college campuses today.
But the events of the day made it obvious that those days are finally over. First was a conversation with my old colleague Bill Rieders, who runs the Digital Business for Cengage Learning. He really gets the evolving media ecosystem, and even if big companies aren’t always the most nimble, I feel confident that the educational publishers know that the days of expensive paper books are over. More than ever, I think they are trying hard to be part of a better solution, rather than defending an old one.
Then the iPad announcement confirmed what has already been obvious since the Kindle and iPhone. Our consumption of content is changing dramatically as the medium through which we consume it changes. It doesn’t actually matter if the iPad wins, or the Nook wins, or something from a startup wins. Something different from a laptop will be in the backpacks of millions of kids soon that will be infinitely better suited for delivering an educational experience to students. And that experience will be incredibly deep and broad, social, interactive, and dynamic.
It’s fun watching an old industry get reborn. And it’s even more fun when that industry is in the business of enriching the minds and lives of students everywhere. Talk about change you can believe in!