I was boarding a plane away from home as Apple’s announcement was happening, so I haven’t had the chance to dig into the details as I normally would, but just the news itself shows Apple is taking on yet another industry. What Apple did to the music industry is a closer analogy to what is happening here than what they did to the phone industry, however.
As Apple recreated the business of music publishing, they’re similarly shifting textbook publishing. They’ve set a price cap (ok, perhaps just for high school, to begin), and a richer target product. In this case, however, they’re not revolutionizing the hardware, but the user experience, as their standard has a richer form of interaction (embedded quizzes) than the latest ePub standard they’re building upon. This is a first step towards the standard I’ve argued for, with rich embedded interactivity (read sims/games).
Apple has also democratized the book creation business, with authoring tools for anyone. They have kind of done that with GarageBand, but this is easier. Publishers will have the edge on homebrew for now, with a greater infrastructure to accommodate different state standards, and media production capabilities or relationships. That may change, however.
Overall, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Apple, once again making life fun.