An iPad for the preschool set

The Fisher-Price iXL Learning System isn’t even on sale yet, and already it’s being hailed as an iPad for pre-schoolers, reports the New York Times. The iXL is a tiny computer that opens like a book. It has fat, colorful icons on the right side and buttons and a speaker on the other side. As you might expect, there are apps for the new product: Story Book, Game Player, Note Book, Art Studio, Music Player, and Photo Album software. And the gadget even has a touch screen. The product should go on sale in July, starting at $79.99. It’s Mac and PC compatible, with an SD card slot and a USB port. “We have invested more research and development dollars into iXL than any other product in our 2010 Fisher-Price product line, and it definitely shows,” Robert Eckert, the chief executive of Mattel, said in a statement…

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Publishers win a bout in eBook Price Fight

With the impending arrival of digital books on the Apple iPad and feverish negotiations with Amazon.com over e-book prices, publishers have managed to take some control–at least temporarily–of how much consumers pay for their content, reports the New York Times. Now, as publishers enter discussions with the Web giant Google about its plan to sell digital versions of new books direct to consumers, they have a little more leverage than just a few weeks ago–at least when it comes to determining how Google will pay publishers for those e-books and how much consumers will pay for them.

Google has been talking about entering the direct eBook market, through a program it calls Google Editions, for nearly a year. But in early discussions with publishers, Google had proposed giving them a 63 percent cut of the suggested retail price, and allowing consumers to print copies of the digital books and cut and paste segments. After Apple unveiled the iPad last month, publishers indicated that Apple would give them 70 percent of the consumer price, which publishers would set.

According to several publishers who have been talking to Google, the book companies had balked at what they saw as Google’s less generous terms, and basically viewed printing and cut-and-paste as deal breakers……Read More

Apple iPad Price Cut: Blunder or Brilliance?

If Apple is really considering price cuts on its just-introduced iPad, the best advice is to make them before launch, not after, according to PC World.

Not today, or tomorrow, but a price drop a week–or even a day–before it goes on sale might give the iPad an incredible boost. I will also describe what other businesses can learn from Apple’s troubles.

The iPad has been gradually settling back to early after a less than stellar Steve Jobs introduction on Jan. 27. The truth is that, for many, a supersized iPod touch just isn’t too terribly interesting.…Read More

Textbook firms ink e-deals for iPad

Major textbook publishers have struck deals with software company ScrollMotion Inc. to adapt their textbooks for the electronic page, as the industry embraces a hope that digital devices such as Apple‘s iPad will transform the classroom, reports the Wall Street Journal. The publishers are tapping the know-how of ScrollMotion to develop textbook applications and test-prep and study guides for the iPad. “People have been talking about the impact of technology on education for 25 years. It feels like it is really going to happen in 2010,” said Rik Kranenburg, group president of higher education for the education unit of McGraw-Hill Cos. and one of the publishers involved in the project. Other publishers include Houghton Mifflin Harcourt K-12, Pearson PLC’s Pearson Education, and Washington Post Co.’s Kaplan Inc., known for its test-prep and study guides. Many developers and publishers are working on applications that will work on the iPad and other digital devices. Maureen McMahon, president of Kaplan Publishing, said a recent Kaplan study showed that students remain big fans of printed books but that they would be more receptive to e-textbooks on portable digital devices. Whether the iPad will be the digital device to transform the classroom remains to be seen. “Nobody knows what device will take off, or which ‘killer app’ will drive student adaptations. Today they aren’t reading e-textbooks on their laptops. But ahead we see all kinds of new instruction materials,” said Kranenburg…

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Kindles, iPads could be textbooks in new Georgia state bill

Could Kindles, iPads, and other reading devices soon be as common in Georgia schools as textbooks? Maybe, if a bill passed by the state Senate is approved in the House, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. On Feb. 2, the Georgia Senate voted 45-5 to expand the definition of “textbook” to include computer hardware and technical equipment to support the use of digital content. Sponsored by Sen. Cecil Staton, R-Macon, the bill would give local school districts the flexibility to expand their spending options and seek modern, alternative methods of receiving information. Reading devices, where textbooks could be downloaded into the unit, are one option, he said. Staton said he met with several local education officials who urged him to look at ways that could give them more flexibility in how they spend their already tight dollars. “They said spending is being cut, so give us more flexibility. So this is removing certain state regulations,” said Staton, who chairs the state Senate’s Science and Technology Committee. “And technology is advancing rapidly. The definition of a textbook that is traditional is not going to cut it. My 14-year-old will learn better and faster if information is delivered by electronic means, other than ‘go read this.’”

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Apple’s approach to eBooks could be problematic

Even as Apple’s iPad is poised energize electronic reading, the new device is undermining a painstakingly constructed effort by the publishing industry to make it possible to move eBooks between different electronic readers, reports the Associated Press. The iPad will be linked to Apple’s first eBook store when it goes on sale in a few months. The books, however, will not be compatible with Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle or with the major alternative eBook system. Apple’s creation of a third choice is likely to further frustrate and confuse consumers if they accumulate eBooks for one device, then try to go back to read them later on a different one. The effect could be akin to having to buy a new set of CDs every time you get a new stereo system. It also could keep people from buying new eReaders as better models come out, if they aren’t compatible with the books they already have. This could cool consumers’ enthusiasm for eBooks, the way sales of digital music downloads were hampered by a variety of copy-protection schemes…

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Future of eReading might not be iPad, but Blio

Blio will allow students to interact with textbooks in full color.
Blio's makers say it will allow students to interact with textbooks in full color.

Despite all the buzz about Apple’s iPad tablet and how it could be useful for reading electronic textbooks, a new software program on the way might hold even more promise for education.

Blio, a free eReader program that is expected to be available in February, reportedly will allow users to read more than a million electronic books on nearly any computer or portable device, with the ability to highlight and annotate text, hear the text read aloud, and more.

Blio was announced at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and is the brainchild of education technology pioneer Ray Kurzweil, creator of Kurzweil Educational Systems and a range of assistive technology products.…Read More