McGraw-Hill CEO Credits Steve Jobs' Digital Textbook Vision Amid Evidence of Pre-iPad Interest

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AllThingsD share some thoughts from McGraw-Hill CEO Terry McGraw, who during a Q&A session following yesterday's iBooks Textbooks media event described how the development was part of Steve Jobs' vision for what textbooks should be like.
Sitting and listening to all of this, I wish Steve Jobs was here. I was with him in June this past year, and we were talking about some of the benchmarks, and some of the things that we were trying to do together. He should be here. He probably is [gesturing up and around]. This was his vision, this was his idea, and it all had to do with the iPad.
Jobs' interest in textbooks is of course now well-known, with Jobs himself being quoted in Walter Isaacson's authorized biography as wanting to revolutionize the textbook industry and as having had conversations with publishers such as Pearson about the possibilities.




Part of Peters' 2008 iContest presentation on digital textbooks
One other interesting tidbit on the history of digital textbooks at Apple was shared yesterday by a former Apple intern. As related to The Wirecutter, former intern Joseph Peters proposed the idea of digital textbooks back in 2008 as part of an "iContest" in which Apple interns gathered to pitch ideas to mid-level executives for feedback. The textbook ideas suggested by Peters and his group were well-received by Apple's judges, with the team being awarded a free MacBook Air and a meeting with higher-level management to discuss the ideas.
Anyway, we presented and answered the Q&A pretty flawlessly. I mean they said they really liked it and every other presentation received mostly sarcastic remarks.

I remember answering a handful of questions and getting the impression that the exec's were totally on board. It was a pretty awesome feeling. [...]

At the end, they announced that we won, they gave us all a MacBook Air and it was great (for interns anyway). I was more excited about the opportunity to talk to more people about the idea. They scheduled a meeting with John Couch, head of Education a few days later. We met John and a few the people on his team in a small board room and we just gave the same pitch as before.
Peters does not suggest that his group's idea was the genesis of Apple's textbook plans, but it does provide interesting insight into a bit of the intern experience at Apple and reveals that Apple was indeed interested in the textbook idea as far back as 2008, more than a year before the debut of the iPad.

Article Link: McGraw-Hill CEO Credits Steve Jobs' Digital Textbook Vision Amid Evidence of Pre-iPad Interest
 

Small White Car

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That's one of the reasons Jobs was so successful. You can tell that he spent years thinking about things like digital textbooks before he started thinking about the iPad.

Most of us weren't sure what an iPad was for when we first saw it. But Steve had already been dreaming up answers to that for many, many years.
 

nwcs

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Yep, it's part of what has made Apple successful over the last decade. They understood the purpose of a device and the content before the device. A lot of the "me too" device manufacturers only create/copy a device without regard or concern about what happens after the sale. I don't think it's as simple as Apple's ecosystem vs everyone else but Apple's focus on usage and content rather than specs and customization. In other words, Apple has a purpose in mind for the devices they create. Many of the other companies out there have no purpose in mind for the devices they make other than to sell them.
 

mazz0

macrumors 68000
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every other presentation received mostly sarcastic remarks
Makes the managers they were pitching to sound a bit unpleasant, doesn't it.

Completely unrelated, just found the alternative characters available by holding your finger on many of the number and symbol keys in iOS (just like you do on the letter keys for accented versions). Nifty. Makes me wonder why it doesn't autocorrect quotes though, so 'single quotes' becomes ‘single quotes’ and "double quotes" becomes “double quotes”.
 

Simmias

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May 22, 2010
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Credit where credit is due

Given this was Steve's idea and he was heavily involved in the project, I'm surprised he received no mention or credit in the keynote.

I'm sure they are being careful to avoid exploiting Steve's legacy and show that Apple can continue without him, but in this case, I think a quick nod to the creator of this idea would have been classy and surely gone over well with the crowd. Conversely, I felt the lack of any hat tip was a bit callous.
 

mdriftmeyer

macrumors 68040
Feb 2, 2004
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Wrong

Steve's vision goes back to the original NeXT Computer and the work with Wolfram, Oxford and others.

The technology had to catch up to his ideas. Sorry, but 2008 is late to the game, wrt what Steve wanted to do at NeXT.

Us at NeXT never got to do that because the NeXTStation and later, NeXTSTEP/Openstep never took off.
 

Bheleu

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Nov 16, 2010
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Given this was Steve's idea and he was heavily involved in the project, I'm surprised he received no mention or credit in the keynote.

I'm sure they are being careful to avoid exploiting Steve's legacy and show that Apple can continue without him, but in this case, I think a quick nod to the creator of this idea would have been classy and surely gone over well with the crowd. Conversely, I felt the lack of any hat tip was a bit callous.
Agree would have been classy to have mentioned the intern, etc. and show Apple has innovators at all levels of the company; however, it's possible he may not have started them down this path, he may have hit a sweet spot they were already working on it and were looking at how he would do things to compare notes.

On the flip side, his idea might have been the foundation of the iPad, and driven the purpose for the responsive UI, etc. have to make it easy enough a kid could use it for textbooks, ideal for small hands, etc. makes sense to me.

Enjoy that used MacBook! Worth it for the Billions of new sales.
 

Gasu E.

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Given this was Steve's idea and he was heavily involved in the project, I'm surprised he received no mention or credit in the keynote.

I'm sure they are being careful to avoid exploiting Steve's legacy and show that Apple can continue without him, but in this case, I think a quick nod to the creator of this idea would have been classy and surely gone over well with the crowd. Conversely, I felt the lack of any hat tip was a bit callous.
The whole EVERYTHING is Steve's legacy. It really goes without saying, and at some point it's just cloying, like those people who ostentatiously thank God publicly at every opportunity.
 

Consultant

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I wonder if the Apple TV rumors were set out to PWN the CES copycats, and the real story is about the textbooks?
 

CJM

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I still think textbooks through iTunes is daft as hell..

What would it take to create a separate app?
 

bbbb4b

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May 15, 2011
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Makes the managers they were pitching to sound a bit unpleasant, doesn't it.
"When you have really good people, they know they're really good, and you don't have to baby people's egos so much."
- Steve Jobs
 

samcraig

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That's one of the reasons Jobs was so successful. You can tell that he spent years thinking about things like digital textbooks before he started thinking about the iPad.

Most of us weren't sure what an iPad was for when we first saw it. But Steve had already been dreaming up answers to that for many, many years.
Sorry - but I disagree. The idea of digital books and interactive media are no brainers. And well before the iPad came out or was even thought of - such ideas were written about in books, shown in movies and on TV.

I'm happy to give credit where credit is due - but not to your extent on this matter.
 

unlimitedx

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Jun 15, 2010
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Sorry - but I disagree. The idea of digital books and interactive media are no brainers. And well before the iPad came out or was even thought of - such ideas were written about in books, shown in movies and on TV.

I'm happy to give credit where credit is due - but not to your extent on this matter.
Lots of people have great ideas, but not everyone has what it takes to follow through and execute on those ideas.
 

samcraig

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Lots of people have great ideas, but not everyone has what it takes to follow through and execute on those ideas.
What was shown yesterday was an extension of Encarta. Which has been around for a couple of decades. The only thing different is how it's displayed.
 

Renzatic

Suspended
I wonder if the Apple TV rumors were set out to PWN the CES copycats, and the real story is about the textbooks?
What were the CES copycats out to copy? Vague rumors of something or another? I guess now that Apple is supposedly working on a TV, anyone who makes a TV from here on out is ripping off Apple's vision of a device that allows for moving pictures to be displayed on a screen.
 

Small White Car

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Sorry - but I disagree. The idea of digital books and interactive media are no brainers. And well before the iPad came out or was even thought of - such ideas were written about in books, shown in movies and on TV.

I'm happy to give credit where credit is due - but not to your extent on this matter.
Execution matters more.

Or do you think one of those Windows 98 tablets is better than the iPad just because it came first?

No, the iPad is currently the best touch-tablet because of the software design. It's nice that Captain Kirk had something similar in the 60's, but it doesn't really count until someone designs it right.

And likewise, there have been many digital books kind of like what we saw yesterday, but I'm not aware of any that take it as far as Apple is.

Ideas are easy. Execution is hard.


What was shown yesterday was an extension of Encarta. Which has been around for a couple of decades. The only thing different is how it's displayed.
"How it's displayed" is the whole point!

It's crazy that we can say "this is great because of x" and you say "what's the big deal? The only thing new here is x."

Well, yeah!
 

Ryth

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Apr 21, 2011
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What was shown yesterday was an extension of Encarta. Which has been around for a couple of decades. The only thing different is how it's displayed.
Yah and that's the point. How things are executed is the key thing.

How come Encarta didn't make their own tablet or device? Oh..because they didn't think about it nor had the idea or capability to execute the idea.

That's like saying...you know...portable music players have been around for decades..the only thing different is how it's played and saying the iPod was nothing big. Same with the iPhone.

Thank god the Wright brothers didn't go..."Yah know..birds have been around for decades...there's no reason for this contraption we are building" ;)