Apple Tries to Win Back Students and Teachers with Low-Cost iPad


Apple Inc.
is preparing to introduce new low-cost iPads and education software next week in a bid to win back students and teachers from
Google
and
Microsoft Corp.

In its first major product event of the year, Apple will return to its roots in the education market. The event on Tuesday at Lane Technical College Prep High School in Chicago will mark the first time Apple has held a product launch geared toward education since 2012 when it unveiled a tool for designing e-books for the iPad. It’s also a rare occasion for an Apple confab outside its home state of California.

A second grader works on an Apple Inc. iPad in Sandy, Utah.

Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg

In Chicago, the world’s most-valuable technology company plans to show off a new version of its cheapest iPad that should appeal to the education market, said people familiar with the matter. The company will also showcase new software for the classroom, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private plans. Apple declined to comment.

Steve Jobs made schools a priority for Apple early in its life. But as the company has driven toward mass-market and higher-margin products in recent years, Google and Microsoft have had success breaking into classrooms with inexpensive laptops and tablets. Last year, the global educational technology market generated $17.7 billion in revenue, according to research firm Frost & Sullivan.

Apple accounted for 17 percent of mobile computing shipments to American students in kindergarten through high school, according to data from the third quarter published by Futuresource Consulting. Devices running Google’s operating systems on Chromebooks or Android tablets held 60 percent of the market, and Windows PCs had 22 percent. While Macs and iPads make up less than 20 percent of Apple’s sales combined, students and teachers are a key market to drive future purchases.

A new, cheaper MacBook laptop is in the works and likely destined to replace the MacBook Air at a price less than $1,000, but it probably won’t be ready in time for next week, the people said. The MacBook Air, introduced about a decade ago, hasn’t seen a major change since 2010, the same year the iPad came out. Although the laptop is popular with college students, it has languished as Apple focuses on more expensive Macs.

Rival laptops have made inroads into the education market lately, a field that originally helped Apple make its name. The sector is prized among industry giants because students learn to use a certain type of device, then head into the workforce and spread the technology wider.