Apple Inc has sent out invites to media outlets last week and asked them to join for an education announcement in the Big Apple on Thursday, 19 January 2012. While Apple did not disclose the details of the subject, sources close to Apple believe that the company is going to unveil new tools that can be described as “GarageBand for e-books”. The new toolsets are expected to simplify the creation of e-books and based on now defunct iWeb software. According to speculations in media, Apple may also unveil new textbooks that are optimized for iPad in this event. While speculations and expectations keep growing, you may wonder why Apple is so keen about e books!
According to the information available from recently published Steve Job’s biography by Walter Isaacson, this was the pet project of Job. He set his eyes on e books because he felt that the $8-billion dollar business of Apple was ripe to become stagnant. He believed that expanding the app base and simplification of e book creation would give a new impetus to the company. While Apple would not likely foray into content creation but it would strive to bring more textbooks for its users and inspire their creativity.
Apple has so far used ePub2 standard for its iBooks. It added a large number of HTML5 based extension to this standard for inclusion of audio video and limited interaction. Recently updated ePub 3 standard calls for extensions because in most cases the iBook formatted e books are incompatible on other e reader platforms.
Digital books are believed to boost social learning and enable interaction among textbook users. Digital texts would allow students to interact with information in visual ways like graphs, videos and 3D model. It would also allow users to create links to audio, video and additional text and share them with peers. Obviously, there is a huge market of such potential users. Apple is unlikely to miss this opportunity and decided to unveil e book creation tools.
Creating standards compliant e books is not as simple as creating a Word document. The current state of software tools are complicated and continue to irritate the authors and publishers. Several of them have expressed their frustration and are searching for a simple app. They are expecting an app that can simplify the e book creation and make it as easy as creating a song in “GarageBand” app of Apple.
Professionals and experts in the e book industry believe that such a move is very much in synergy with the business plan of Apple. The company has already sold thousands of iPads to several institutions. However, these iPads don’t have much content to offer and currently not in a position to replace the textbooks. Although, Apple is not likely to provide content directly, it is expected to create a user friendly platform to create and publish them.
Apple has been providing industry leading tools like Final Cut Pro and Logic, for creating content. The company has also offered tools like GarageBand and iMovie that simplified creation of music and movies. With a growing competition from Samsung in the business of tablets and smartphones, it has become necessary for Apple to come up with some unique offers. The new set of e book creation tools may be a turning point in the industry.