Despite releasing OS X Mountain Lion and a whole host of app compatibility updates this morning, Apple has finished delivering new software. The Cupertino company just rolled out iTunes U version 1.2, which adds note-taking, and new search and sharing features.
Beyond the numbers, there were some tantalizing tidbits about Apple and the company’s future plans during today’s quarterly financial call. While nothing quite lived up to Tim Cook comparing Windows 8 to someone trying to converge a toaster and a refrigerator into a single device during the last call, there were several choice comments.
Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer presented the results of the company’s spring 2012 quarter. The quarter included extensive growth for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac product lines though iPod sales declined 10% from the same quarter a year ago.
Here are the financial numbers delivered during the call.
Both the Atlantic and NY Times ran stories this week focusing on Coursera, an initiative involving several high-profile universities that are putting a range of classes online for anyone who wants to take them. The initiative is part of trend in higher education to make learning available to anyone who has the personal or professional interest in taking a college or university class regardless of financial or geographical challenges.
While Coursera is getting a lot of media attention and is racking up hundreds of thousands of students around the globe, the idea of free college learning is hardly new. Apple introduced the concept of watching or listening to college lectures when it first rolled out iTunes U in 2007. More recently, Apple revamped iTunes U to offer a much more immersive experience that includes assigned readings, activities and projects, and even note-taking in addition to recorded lectures.
One of the ways that working in education is different from almost any other industries is the annual summer break. The summer break let’s schools and districts tackle large projects in ways that simply aren’t possible in other fields. Deploying a brand-new network, building an expansion, and taking part in professional development programs are just a few examples.
With the end of the school year, Apple is taking the opportunity to remind schools and educators about a free professional development program that it’s offering. Called the Tune In Series, the program is a series of webcast events covering the iPad and many of the technologies that Apple introduced during its education event in January. The series is running every week through the end of August.
Apple has released the first update for its free iOS Apple Configurator tool. Configurator, which we’ve covered in-depth since its release last month, allows organizations to mass configure and deploy iPads. The software works best as a stand-alone management solution for iOS devices that are shared among multiple users but it can also be part of a wider mobile management strategy.
The update includes a handful of bug fixes as well as a couple or major changes to the ways that Configurator works with app and ebook purchases.
Apple’s e-textbook initiative, which the company launched in January along with iBooks Author and a revamped iTunes U service is aimed at K-12 schools rather than higher education. Higher education has a different set of needs when it comes to textbooks, study, and reference materials. There are also big differences in device/platform selection between K-12 and the college market.
In fact, these differences are probably a big part of why Apple decided to focus the majority of its e-textbook (and, by extension its iPad in education) effort on the K-12 market. It’s a market that yields Apple more growth opportunities now and down the road.
Following the release of iTunes U for iOS last week, Apple has introduced a new support section to its website that is aimed at students and teachers who are interested in adopting the new app. The support notes cover things like creating new iTunes U courses, creating course podcasts, and marketing your institution’s content.