Making the Grade: Apple’s best device in the classroom would be a 12.9″ iPad with a Magic Keyboard at $499

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    As we head into a new year, I’ve been thinking a lot about where Apple sits with its K–12 strategy. The discussion around technology in education was evolving before COVID-19, and it continues to evolve post-COVID-19. As I think about where Apple sits in K-12, I see a glaring weakness: the company needs a low-cost 12.9″ iPad package with a Magic Keyboard style case.

    About Making The Grade: Through his experience deploying and managing 100s of Macs and 100s of iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple’s products work at scale, stories from the trenches of IT management in education, and ways Apple could improve its products for students.

    When I think about students using devices day in and day out, I see glaring weaknesses in Apple’s low-cost iPad today. The flaw has nothing to do with the power inside the iPad but rather the size of the screen. A screen less than 10″ will be challenging to use for extended periods with multitasking (using it as a traditional laptop).

    Creating an education only iPad package

    Apple’s strategy for the larger iPads has been to use them to push what the iPad can do power-wise and thus has created the iPad Pro lineup. For most people, the power isn’t the reason they get the 12.9″ iPad Pro, but rather the screen size. I’d love to see Apple create a new combination strategy for its K-12 focused iPad.

    I’d love to see a $499 iPad package with a 12.9″ iPad and Magic Keyboard included with each device. The power and technology in this iPad will have to be reduced for Apple to ship a product at that price point, but I believe it would be a powerful K-12 device.

    Right now, it’s simply too expensive to deploy a 12.9“ iPad Pro and a Magic Keyboard in the classroom. Apple doesn’t have the match the price of a 13” Chromebook, but it needs to get in the ballpark with a device with comparable hardware.

    iPadOS in the classroom

    I still believe that iPadOS is one of the most powerful options, but ChromeOS is still a worthy competitor. The more I think about the education environment I want my kids to grow up in, the more I like about iPadOS. I don’t want my kids staring at computers for eight hours a day – they have the rest of their lives for that. The iPad is a companion device in the classroom. The laptop is the focal point of the classroom.

    A 12.9″ iPad with a Magic Keyboard style attachment at $499 would be an excellent device for schools to build their technology strategy around. They’d get the best of iPadOS with the larger screen size at a price the CFO will approve.

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