Love it or hate it, Apple's sales busting range of products - and, more specifically, the iPad - is opening new windows of opportunity for the channel particularly in education.
And while those Apple products are proving disruptive to incumbent vendor suppliers, there's little doubt major channel players are taking a big bite out of the opportunities Apple offers.
Anittel's Peter Kazacos, has seen the value in the Apple market and is investing in iPad accreditation for education.
Analyst firm, Gartner predicts that though technology spend by education (both higher and primary/ secondary schools) will dip in 2011, it will grow steadily from that point and become a $2.02 billion opportunity by 2015.
And despite that expected dip for this year, there are still substantial opportunities in the space.
Victoria, for instance, has been slow to implement the 1-to-1 computing initiative of the Australian Federal Government, and as a result there is unspent budget in the state at the moment, with deadlines looming.
However, a substantial portion of that opportunity will be eaten up by Apple and its iDevices.
“Where the One Laptop Per Child [OLPC] and mini-notebook fell short in delivering true computer-aided curriculum, the media tablet can deliver if schools build them into a larger ecosystem emerging around digital textbooks," Gartner analyst, C.G. Lee, noted in the report Market Insight: Media Tablets to Spur Computer-Aided Curriculums in Schools in Asia-Pacific.
In the report, Lee said the Australian Government has shifted its focus from the minilaps that were part of its initial digital education revolution to tablet devices, offering parents rebates for buying tablets.
For “media tablets” read, largely, the iPad, given that Apple owns over 70 per cent of the market.
Other vendors with a strong education play, such as Acer and Lenovo, have competitive tablet devices and are looking to customise the tablet experience for schools.
Just last week, for instance, Acer announced a partnership with Pearson Australia to deliver Pearson Secondary Australian Curriculum e-books to student and teachers on Acer’s Iconia Tab A500 and Iconia W500 Tab devices.
Despite this, according to Apple and education specialist, Robert Kloester of Designwyse, the interest is already there to move to Apple platforms.
“People are looking to spend at the moment,” Kloester said. “There is lots of interest in iPads, and the current rollouts to teachers and students is only the tip of the iceberg. We’re fulfilling orders for dozens with a view to expand to whole year groups in the coming years.”
Network Neighborhood, a Lenovo partner, is confident that Apple won’t dominate the education space quite as much as the consumer market, but COO, Hanspeter Eiselt, said that if the vendor’s traction in the space was to continue, then Network Neighborhood would look at ways to work with it.
“A lot of schools, when they say ‘Apple,’ they just mean tablets,” Eiselt said. “We want to partner with market leaders and hold our options open, but I don’t want to engage in hypotheticals; we just want to provide the best customer experience for our schools.
“Lenovo has just launched a tablet, which we think will do well in the space and every year there is a new opportunity, and a new year 9 and 10 for the 1-to-1 computing.”
Should Apple gain traction in education, reseller and integration partners such as Network Neighborhood and Somerville Group will find new opportunities on the back end.
Somerville Group director, Craig Somerville, said that Apple technologies would place new requirements on the network and infrastructure side.
“On the question of whether Apple will dominate, I don’t think so,” Somerville said. “It’s definitely making traction, but as are a lot of other products at the moment.”