Before the acclaim for Apple CEO Steve Jobs’s keynote at Macworld Expo San Francisco had died down, Apple UK was busy preparing for BETT (the Educational technology Show) at London's Olympia – Europe's biggest education technology show.
The 2004 event attracted 24,508 visitors, who met with 550 ICT in education suppliers, all bidding to convince educators that their products are essential.
Apple's job at BETT was made much easier this year following the announcements from Macworld Expo. The Mac mini made a huge impression on visitors, who now understand that Macs no longer represent a high initial outlay, as the Mac mini’s entry price into education is £271 (ex. VAT). The ability to offer customers iLife bundled with every machine is also a huge boon, given the introduction of features such as music notation in GarageBand 2. This makes it much easier for music departments to choose a Mac, because music software on Windows costs over £300 – even with education pricing. There was a feeling at the show that with the Mac mini, Apple had come up with a very clever way to infiltrate schools and LEAs who had not previously considered buying a Mac.
Every year BETT holds a mirror up to education technology marketplace, and Apple’s place in it. Its attendance list is an indication of the areas of growth in the market. This year saw fewer hardware, software and peripherals manufacturers than before – but witnessed innovation all the same: There was an increase in companies trying to do clever things with interactive whiteboards and solutions for student administration.
According to recent research, Apple now commands around 10 per cent of the UK education market, with the majority of Macs being used for creative elements of the curriculum – art, design, music and media studies.
This niche has been enhanced by Apple's success in convincing schools that Macs are the best solution for digital video in education, due to glowing evaluations from two government-backed Becta digital-video pilots, both of which use Macs. This has seen many schools buying Macs just for video and music-related work, in addition to their existing Windows networks. This position has been strengthened by the Windows network-friendly nature of Mac OS X and the surprising move by Research Machines – the biggest educational supplier in the UK – to sell Macs.
In contrast to other BETT 2005 exhibitors, Apple staffed its stand with education savvy experts from from schools and resellers.
The stand was divided into four areas: a mobile learning section, with iPods, iBooks, mobile classrooms; an iLife in the classroom area; a Pro applications area, featuring Final Cut Express, Final Cut Pro and the Logic products; and a server/network area that showcased Xserve and Remote Desktop, as well as third-party video conferencing tool – Marratech. The Apple Theatre ran 14 presentations a day across multiple topics, and was manned for the first time by Apple Distinguished Educators from around the UK – showing what Apple products can achieve in the classroom.
To build on the popularity of the iPod Apple UK launched the iPod inspirations site at BETT, which focuses on educational uses of the music player.
To showcase curriculum uses for its technology Apple sponsored a continuing feature at BETT called Create at BETT. This is a partnership of organisations (DV in Education, Film Education, Media Education Wales, Solutions Inc and Ultralab) that work with young people at the show to create videos, animations and music. Endorsements from teachers, young people and partners are the best Apple can have.
Apple Education staged a 'solutions trail' around the event that guided visitors to third-party Mac developers. An example of this relationship with Mac education developers was highlighted by KudlianSoft having its products showcased in the Apple Theatre.