Apple's next big announcement is scheduled to take place on Thursday, January 19th, in New York City's Guggenheim Museum, and is anticipated to be about getting into the textbook business. From there the speculation gets baroque. But before we get too excited, we have to drop in an obligatory pre-Apple event disclosure: we don't know anything for sure until chief executive Tim Cook or whichever official Apple representative explains what the heck is going on. So far, however, it's been reported in some pretty serious newspapers like The New York Times that this announcement is going to be textbook-related. The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that McGraw-Hill is going to be the media partner, kind of like how News Corp. was the partner for this publishing-related event a year ago.
Will Apple launch a sort of GarageBand for e-books? "That's what we believe you're about to see," MacInnis told Ars (and our other sources agree). "Publishing something to ePub is very similar to publishing web content. Remember iWeb? That iWeb code didn't just get flushed down the toilet -- I think you'll see some of [that code] repurposed."
We're not really sure what that means. And we had to Google iWeb, because we don't remember what it was. The idea, a sort of Apple version of Tumblr or WordPress that helps you set up websites, sounds both intriguing and confusing. (Kind of like a GarageBand for textbooks!) Either way, Foresman's hypothesis about what Apple's textbook product will look like makes us want to go back to school immediately:
While speculation has so far centered on digital textbooks, sources close to the matter have confirmed to Ars that Apple will announce tools to help create interactive e-books — the "GarageBand for e-books," so to speak — and expand its current platform to distribute them to iPhone and iPad users. … So far, Apple has largely embraced the ePub 2 standard for its iBooks platform, though it has added a number of HTML5-based extensions to enable the inclusion of video and audio for some limited interaction.
It's also worth noting that the Guggenheim is the same venue where they announced the launch of Rupert Murdoch's pet iPad project, The Daily. And while we don't have any opinions about The Daily's success -- you can find others' opinions pretty easily -- we don't have anything but questions about Apple's plans to reinvent education. So far, they have a pretty good track record of disrupting education, and fixing education seems like a pretty productive goal.
Boy would our bookish 11-year-old selves just died to sit in a classroom and watch interactive videos on our textbooks (read: video games that teach you things). Kind of like how our sort-of-pushing-30 selves are dying to "watch a newspaper."
Note: Speaking of watching a newspaper, the above photo is of Egyptian Professor Cherif Boussiouni speaking to TV journalists in Manama, Bahrain, where apparently reporters report with iPads. Future days!
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.