updated 08:55 pm EDT, Fri October 21, 2011
Steve Jobs aimed at iPad ruling textbooks next
Steve Jobs had wanted to swing the iPad's focus to a radical approach to textbooks, another excerpt from the book revealed Friday. He told Walter Isaacson that he wanted textbook authors to produce iPad versions that would be given away for free. The rationale, the New York Times learned from the passage, was that they could possibly skip state certification and get books to students both faster and for lower prices.
"We can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money," Jobs explained.
Whether or not Apple's management was going ahead with this wasn't apparent. The initiative would have likely been controversial as it might have avoided the politicization of student textbooks but also might have raised questions about honoring state guidelines.
The iPad has become popular enough in education that it's now more popular than the Mac in some primary and secondary schools, but textbooks have been largely left to the publishers. These have included aggregation in Kno's iPad app, some iBookstore titles, and individual apps. An official push on textbooks could draw significantly more attention.
As an aside, Isaacson also understood that Jobs at his final board meeting as CEO had been grilling senior VPs Scott Forstall and Phil Schiller over the long-term future of the iPhone. They supposedly showed prototypes of future models of these and possibly other Apple devices to the departing CEO. His focus was not just on what features they would have but spent a significant amount of time discussing 4G support.
It's widely believed, and has been referenced in code, that Apple will add LTE-based 4G support to the 2012 iPhone. Both AT&T and Verizon will have built out their LTE networks more substantially by the middle of next year. Apple may have even given an incentive for Sprint's LTE switch, since it wouldn't likely get WiMAX support and might have had to keep to 3G.