According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple is looking to position their yet unannounced tablet as a textbook replacement. While at first glance this seems like a great way to one-up Amazon’s Kindle and broaden the market with a new target audience, there are a few hurdles to overcome.
First off, Ashok Kumar, an analyst with Northeast Securities has stated that he believes the Apple’s tablet will fall into the hands of Verizon with a contract requirement for EVDO data service. Looking back to my college days, a $60+ monthly fee would be a huge barrier to me. This is especially true if we take the Kindle model as a proxy, where the prices of digital books are not that much lower than their printed counterparts. Even if Kumar is wrong, with the tablet being a full fledged mobile device, it is likely there will be some form of monthly monetary requirement for internet access, regardless of the carrier partnership.
Secondly, most students already have laptops for taking notes. If digital textbooks become a norm, Apple will face stiff competition from other distributors who will supply these digital rights to software companies. These companies will most likely end up producing software for an average PC. The only way to avoid this would be with exclusivity contracts between Apple and all of the textbook publishers, which is unlikely to occur.