The iPad's lower cost, child-friendly nature, and strong offering of educational apps are all leading to the device outperforming Mac PC and laptop products in the K-12 education market, according to MacNN, a website that covers Macintosh and iPad news.
While the news was reportedly "absolutely shocking" to Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, in part because of the education market's conservative reputation, it mirrors the observations of educators throughout the country and also follows broader iPad sales trends.
Although the battery life, intuitive nature, and affordability (compared with Macs and PC laptops) have all contributed to educational iPad purchases, some educators have voiced questions as to whether they are more sensible for use than netbooks, including some of those interviewed for our Spring/Summer issue of Digital Directions.
Across all sectors, Apple sold 9.25 million iPad tablet computers in the third quarter of fiscal 2011, compared with roughly 4 million Mac products, according to MacNN, with the introduction of the iPad 2 in March helping to double the tablet's sales from the previous quarter. Cook acknowledged that some of iPad's popularity could be cutting into Mac sales, but insisted it was doing more harm to the low-end PC netbook and notebook markets.
As we noted earlier this summer, other manufacturers are trying to catch up to the tablet trend. But I've spoken to several ed-tech experts who think netbooks may still be more functional for educational use, particularly at the middle and high school levels, meaning not everyone is convinced that other manufacturers can duplicate over the long haul the hype that has surrounded the iPad so far.