Apple today revealed iBooks 2, which expands its bookmaking app and App Store to include textbooks. The effort will include tools built to make it easier to create digital textbooks and provide students with dynamic, interactive learning material. Though the focus is on the educational market, iBooks 2 will have an affect on small businesses as well. Here are just a few of the ways a successful iBooks 2 could impact your business.
1. Content Creation
Apple released a free app called iBooks Author, which it says can enable "gorgeous, full screen books; interactive animations, diagrams, photos, videos; fast, fluid navigation; highlighting and note-taking". The app isn't just for textbooks, as Apple suggests it's great for "cookbooks, history books, picture books and more". The tool includes templates, works through drag-and-drop mouse gestures, and allows widgets to be included in books to enable photo galleries, video, slideshows, and 3D objects. For businesses, this could be a great tool for promotional materials and training manuals--or if your business provides content, a new way to generate and sell your media.
2. Employee Training
If iBooks 2 succeeds as educators shift away from paper books and toward digital media, expect other types of training to follow. The change will likely be similar to moving from overhead presentations to PowerPoint slideshows. Once you've seen a PowerPoint presentation, a stack of overhead transparencies no longer compares. Any training your business provides is likely to take the form of what your fresh-out-of-school hires are familiar with. Having the tools to combine all of this into an easily digestible form will be convenient. Having to turn otherwise boring, static, boilerplate information into a dazzling show will be extra work.
3. Demand for Tablets
Tablets are on the rise, and using them for textbooks will be one more way that every student will end up using one. Expect to see Apple's competitors release similar offerings, and for tablets eventually to become a standard school supply. In the same way that nearly every college student today needs a laptop, soon they will all need tablets. Once in the workplace, and having been trained on a tablet, they will expect to use a tablet for their daily duties. Businesses should not only expect to accommodate tablets, but embrace them as an important business tool.
4. Demand for Apple
The iPad currently dominates the tablet market, with over 70 percent market share. The competition is improving and more options are becoming available, but it's possible this early lead could stick for some time. As with the portable music market, Apple could remain in control, and if that happens, expect greater demand for Apple products at work. First the iPod and then the iPhone were seen as "gateway drugs", indoctrinating users into the Apple ecosystem and making them want more Apple products. As students are exposed to iPads from a young age, they will expect to use Apple products at work.
5. Better Employees?
Why move from paper to digital media? For Apple and its competitors, there's certainly a financial gain. From a pedagogical standpoint, will a tablet be a better educational tool than a paper book? Perhaps a change in the tool and the addition of multimedia won't make any difference. The addition of audio, video, pictures and widgets could provide a passive experience in which students just watch the flashing lights and moving objects and don't learn much. Hopefully, however, the capability to convey information in the richest format possible will engage students, improving their education by make it easier for them to absorb information. And with more educated students graduating and entering the workforce, companies will have a stronger pool to draw hires from, which benefits all types of businesses.