Read our new manifesto
Future 50 Banner

Apple heads into school textbook business, just what Steve wanted

Apple is now moving into school textbooks in a big way, and Steve Jobs would have loved it. Today the company unveiled iBooks 2, which Apple called "a new textbook experience for iPad". Also announced: iBooks Author, which helps users to create textbooks; and a new iTunes U, which can be used to create full online courses. All these products will be free in Apple's App store.

Steve Jobs: the education man

"All of us at Apple know we really can empower people through learning. Tech has a role to play to help do that," said Philip Schiller, Apple's world-wide marketing VP , at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

iBooks 2 lets users take notes, create study cards, search within text, and take quizzes, among other things.

With iBooks Author, developers can use Apple-designed templates to create textbooks with interactive media.

Apple also announced the availability of textbooks from publishers McGraw-Hill , Britain's Pearson PLC , and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. First up: Textbooks for high-school students at $14.99 or less. Eventually, Apple expects textbooks for almost every subject and grade level, reported the Wall Street Journal

It's not all altruism. Apple's education plans will bring even more more interest in the iPad, which already has 70% of the market.

Apple products have long been used in classrooms, with discounts offered to teachers and students. Apple also provides lectures and other educational content through its iTunes U.

"Education is deep in our DNA," said Schiller. Education institutions use more than 1.5 million iPads and have access to more than 20,000 education apps. More than 1,000 universities have used iTunes U, producing more than 700 million downloads.

The new iTunes U product will let teachers create full online courses, with syllabuses, assignments and lectures. Apple said six universities already have made more than 100 courses available for free, and that iTunes U also will offer courses for grades kindergarten through high school.

Apple's late co-founder, Steve Jobs, long wanted to reform education with technology. Recently, he envisioned lowering the cost of textbooks by distributing them on the iPad.

Appropriately, the New York event was the first hosted by the company since Steve died in October. He would have loved it