Daily Archives: August 14, 2010

Why Apple needs to strike hard and fast to make Keynote the dominant presentation software in colleges and other institutes of education – it can be done in the next five years despite Powerpoint’s undeserved current dominance.

In my last several posts, I’ve asked you to observe with me a changing landscape for presentations, in particular how the nature of audiences is forcing a shift towards visually-rich media.

Some of the research I have cited argues that a new generation is coming through who have grown up with the internet, especially broadband, which can deliver media in different ways than it was for their parents for whom dialup was the standard, as was your traditional text- and bullet-point driven Powerpoint stacks in college and the boardroom.

Young people coming through the ranks have grown up creating their own media, using devices like Apple’s iMovie and publishing it on YouTube and Facebook for friends and strangers to share.

Other social media like Slideshare have allowed academics and authors to upload their presentations and while many old-fashioned slide stacks still abound, it’s clear that they simply won’t catch the attention of younger viewers.

We are also seeing more and more mainstream media articles challenging Powerpoint’s dominance as the major channel for delivering knowledge and blogs such as mine and Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen asking for a rethink of the evidence behind engaging and persuasive message delivery.

While I like this blog to be as useful to a Powerpoint user as it is to an Apple Keynote user, I want to suggest that Apple is now primed to take a leadership position in helping the knowledge sharing process with a much more active and aggressive promotion of Keynote to an audience who is primed to receive and act on this message: College students and staff.

Recent surveys suggest the Macintosh, the only platform Keynote runs on, is making serious inroads as the platform of choice for many students and faculty.

In March, 2008, Appleinsider published the following:

Apple’s rapidly rising mindshare amongst current generation college students is setting the company up for an “aging phenomenon” that will spur further market share and revenue growth as those students enter the work force, investment bank Morgan Stanley said Wednesday.

A recent higher-education survey cited by analyst Katy Huberty reveals that roughly 40 percent of college students say their next computer purchase will be a Mac, well ahead of Apple’s current 15 percent market share in the demographic.

John Gruber’s Daring Fireball blog last week offered a more recent statistical analysis:

Philip Elmer-DeWitt, quoting survey results from Student Monitor:

“Among those who planned to purchase a new computer, 87% planned to buy a laptop. And among those students 47% planned to buy a Mac.”

Among student laptop owners, Apple has the highest share, at 27 percent. These numbers are short of the claim by analyst Trip Chowdhry that “70% of incoming University freshman students are coming with Macs”, but they’re still remarkable, and the trend is very strong in Apple’s favor.

At one time, Apple bundled its iWork office suite on all laptops as fully-operational demo software, which was operational for 30 days before it require the purchase online of a serial number.

It’s time for Apple to give serious thought to returning to this bundling for students. It’s also time for Apple’s online tutorials about iWork to shift to how academics can use Keynote especially in the sciences with its need often for special formulas, equations and graphs.

It’s clear to me also that the boardroom is still slavishly devoted to Powerpoint. But the trojan horse here will be those graduates who have used Apple’s laptops all their college lives, who have become au fait with Keynote as their preferred choice of multimedia knowledge sharing tool – even in MBA courses – and who will soon be entering junior then senior levels of management. It might take five years, but the statistics I’ve cited suggest a change is already underway, and it’s there for Apple to capitalise on.

Despite great improvements in the current and forthcoming versions of Powerpoint (much of it emulating or playing catchup to Keynote), there is still a huge legacy of basically awful Powerpoint for these new versions to overcome. Keynote users, in my observations, have rarely had this allegiance to old style, no evidence for it, styles of presenting now so much out of favour by those who make a study of knowledge transfer. But it’s a long way to go.

With the expected uptake of the iPad in academia and business, with its specialised Keynote app and maybe a new desktop version of Keynote, and you have a prefect storm of change brewing.

I’m guessing the next version of Keynote is in the oven almost cooked, just waiting for the sprinkles to be added before its release. Hopefully it will leapfrog Powerpoint 2010 (Windows) and 2011 (Mac). But what needs to be done also by Apple is to really ramp up its thrust into these important territories where significant change is occurring for which Keynote with its media rich properties is tailor made and a much better fit than default Powerpoint, even in its latest incarnations.

I’m hoping Apple can return its gaze for the next little while to the desktop/laptop application market place, and drive home the platform’s advances and advantages. I want Apple to especially offer a means for those in academia, student, teacher and researcher alike, to learn new ways of knowledge transfer in a manner that better suits the evidence base for how humans learn.

My visits to Apple HQ in Cupertino as well as iWork teams in Pittsburgh where I presented emphasised this shift; I am truly hopeful my message was received and applied in the next imminent version of Keynote, and beyond.

UPDATE: Even Bill Gates says so, sort of…

Gates acknowledged in a recent talk how the world of online education may well surpass traditional education in the next five years. Even more reason to get with the program of improving academic instructional training with appropriate tools and methods. Here is Engadget’s reporting:

Bill Gates just might be the world’s most famous college dropout (sorry, Kanye), but lest you think he’s changed his mind about the educational establishment, he’s got a few words of reassurance for you. As the closing speaker of the Techonomy 2010 conference, Bill dished out his vision of how learning will evolve over the next few years, stating his belief that no single university will be able to match the internet when it comes to providing the learning resources a student needs. Describing traditional studies as “place-based” and inefficient, he forecasts that university education will become five times less important within five years, with online lecture sources picking up the reins of enlightening our youth