Apple Hopes to Dominate the Education Market with the iPad Mini

The battle for school systems’ edtech budgets is heating up. Just last week Amazon released Whispercast in hopes of cutting into the iPad’s classroom dominance, but Apple is ready to fight back with the smaller, leaner iPad Mini.

Since its release, the iPad has grown in popularity as an educational tool, but its price remains a concern for many cash-conscious school systems. Though the price of the iPad Mini will likely be announced at Apple’s event tomorrow, estimates for the low-end model are about $250 US, which offers a significant savings compared to $399 for the least expensive iPad 2 configuration.

According to the Center for Digital Education, schools spent about $19.7 billion dollars on IT, including hardware, during 2010-2011, though it’s logical that this number will continue to grow as educators try to bring the tablet technology to their students.

Just like its competitors Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, Apple is chasing those edtech dollars. Apple has assigned sales staff to work specifically with school districts, where they meet regularly with school administrators and procurement officers.

As Tyler Bosmeny, the CEO of education software company Clever Inc. told Bloomburg Business, “Apple has got the world’s biggest education sales force, they have a great device and they have a long history in education. This is absolutely something that they would be crazy to ignore.”

Though Apple has been selling Macs to schools for a number of years, the personal computers remain pricey, and would often be overlooked in favor of cheaper brands, but the iPad Mini has the chance to hit a school district’s sweet spot.

Vineet Madan, a senior vice president at McGraw-Hill Cos. education unit explains, “Once these tablets get in to the $200 to $300 range we are going to see a real aggressive uptake in the K-12 market.”

Educator’s embrace of mobile technology mirrors consumers’ spending habits, as many shoppers are choosing the iPad instead of a new laptop or desktop.

“We’re moving away from desktops and laptops,” said James Ponce, the superintendent of the McAllen Independent School District in Texas. “Ninety percent of the work is now being done on mobile devices.”

Has your child’s school district embraced the iPad? While it pales compared to the 26,000 iPads purchased by a San Diego district, in my children’s school system, the pilot program for fifth grade students has expanded to include those in fourth and sixth grade.

[via Bloomburg News]

About Emily: Emily is a freelance writer who loves discovering new apps whenever she can pry the iPad away from her children or husband. You can contact her via Twitter: @whatwentwrite