Apple’s iPad appears to be gaining decent mindshare in the education market, a sector where its rivals continue to struggle.
A new survey of educational technology directors by Piper Jaffray found virtually all of them testing or deploying Pads in their schools.
Notably, none of them were testing or deploying Android tablets.
Now to be clear, this was a small survey. The sample size was only 25, though as Gene Munster, the Piper Jaffray analyst who conducted it, notes, the population of IT decision makers in the education field isn’t exactly vast. So that 100 percent metric is more a directional indicator than anything else.
Still, it does anecdotally confirm a larger trend, one Apple noted during the numbers portion of its last big media event. Nearly 1,000 K-12 schools have an iPad one-to-one program. In other words, at minimum they are providing an entire classroom of students with their own iPads to use throughout their academic school day.
Other metrics reinforce that trend. Apple says that currently every state in the U.S. has a K-12 iPad education pilot program or deployment in place. And more than 2,300 K-12 school districts in the United States are running iPad programs for students or faculty, among them New York City and Chicago.
So Apple is beginning to deliver on the promise of handheld education. And as more education content is customized for the iPad, it’s not hard to imagine the device gaining even more traction in the school market. At $499 before typical educator and student discounts, the iPad is price competitive with most PCs that schools currently purchase, which suggests Apple may be poised to capture a significant percentage of the developing tablet market in education.
As Munster observes, the schools and school districts in his sample currently have about 10 students per computer. But within the next five years, their educational technology directors expect them to have six students per tablet. And by “tablet,” says Munster, he means iPad, because the two were effectively synonymous in his survey.
Looks like Ron Johnson — the merchandising guru who created Apple’s retail stores and recently left the company for the CEO gig at J.C. Penney — may have been right when he predicted that the current generation of students may prove to be the last one with backpacks.