Apple’s designs on disrupting textbook biz becoming clearer

17 Jan 2012

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Apple is reportedly working with some of the largest texbook publishers in the world – including McGraw-Hill and potentially Ireland’s own Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – on a new venture that will destroy the traditional education publishing business forever.

Apple’s working with McGraw-Hill and other publishers such as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Cengage Learning may also be part of a major reveal on Thursday.

As we reported last week, the traditional education publishing business is desperately in need of a shake up and a move away from rote learning to more dynamic, interactive learning can only be facilitated if the tired, cynical cycle of repeatedly publishing editions just to make money is broken.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that one of the US’ largest education publishers McGraw-Hill is working with Apple on a model that will facilitate the delivery of dynamic e-books to iOS and Mac devices. Other publishers like Cengage Learning are also understood to be involved.

It is expected Apple will launch a slew of partnerships on Thursday when, at the Guggenheim museum in New York, it is expected to unveil a textbook delivery solution optimised for iOS and Mac devices and possibly delivered via its iBooks app platform.

Less clear, but highly likely, will be the involvement of other education publishers like Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (formerly Riverdeep) which has its R&D headquarters in Dublin. The company recently unveiled a year-long pilot of the first-ever full curriculum algebra app for the iPad. The app, which was created here in Dublin by HMH’s R&D team, is being piloted in school districts across California and could be an ideal case study for the kind of education collaboration Apple has in mind.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com