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Monday, August 24, 2015

Death knell for proprietary tablet ecosystems?

This past week has seen a lot of news on the tablet front. While it may be old news that tablet sales are declining, this past week two negative major stories broke about school-focused tablet companies. 

The first involved high profile Amplify, which created a school-only tablet with big subscription dreams, the idea being that schools adopt a relatively low-cost proprietary tablet system and then spend annually on a management and other content subscriptions. Past news for Amplify had not been positive, with a large scale high profile mess in Guilford County schools in North Carolina, where a very high percentage of the devices suffered from hardware issues, such as cracked screens and overheating device chargers. Now News Corp is ready to unload Amplify, which is ending production of its tablets

Then came the news that the KUNO tablet, that had been named the iPad’s biggest competitor in 2012, had its own problems and that several districts were suing CurriculumLoft over a multitude of issues with the proprietary tablet. 

Is this the tablet death knell in K-12? Probably not. But it’s no secret that tablets (or any other device) are not the secret to transforming learning, and that in many use scenarios students prefer having a keyboard, which both KUNO and Amplify sold as accessories. This begs the question, why not just buy a device with an attached keyboard?