Consumer pressure on IT departments

Last week’s New York Times article titled “Blackberry’s Quest: Fend Off the iPhone” explained the pressure that the iPhone is placing on Research In Motion to add consumer-friendly features to new Blackberry devices. The following statement caught my eye, due to its implications for school laptop programs.

Indeed, R.I.M.’s allure to carriers and corporations may be irresistible and impossible for Apple to weaken, even if Apple improves iPhone security. But some analysts still wonder what will happen to the BlackBerry’s dominance when everyday consumers start driving growth in the smartphone market.

We have seen a similar pressure arrive here at school. Students choose their own laptop platform when they enter the high school. Historically, their choice mirrored their parents’ platform adoption: about two-thirds PC. Two years ago, the platforms drew even — 50/50 PC and Mac. Last year, 90% of students chose Macintosh.

Though we have understood for a while that Apple’s popularity has skyrocketed here, we have to this point limited our analysis to the computers’ “cool factor”, the iPod, the new acceptability of Mac to Intel parents, and the good Mac experiences these students have had in their earlier years. The Times article underscores a broader trend. Our experience with Apple may repeat itself in other areas as students and teachers apply their consumer experiences to their work at school. We may need to stay abreast of technology developments beyond the realm of business.

TiVo is another good example. Many teachers now expect a different interaction with television than before, thanks to the rise of DVR in the home. Now, we have two TiVo devices on campus, though we have had to learn how to operate them within a network environment, with its increased challenges.

One comment

  1. Paul Monheimer says:

    Interesting tagline about TiVo. With its network access and software such as Roxio Toast, a colleague in a different division can recommend a program, set TiVo to record it, and I can show it to students all without ever making a physical copy. No more "Does anybody have a copy of…" emails!