FT, many education apps to join Penguin in iPad app migration

The Financial Times and a plethora of education solutions seem set to join Penguin in a move to embrace the iPad as Pearson, the publisher behind both titles has confirmed it is making a shift to catch the digital wave with a range of iPad apps, including through its education products, which form the core of its international business.

The group yesterday reported strong 2009 results, with pretax profits climbing 13% to £761m, but is engaged in a major transformation as it moves away from dependency on print products, revenues from which continues to fall.

Digital products and services generated a record £1.7bn of sales, now 31% of Pearson. eBook sales grew fourfold on the previous year. 14,000 eBook titles are now available. “eBook sales are expected to grow rapidly again in 2010, benefiting from the popularity of e-readers such as Amazon’s Kindle, the Sony Reader and Barnes and Noble’s Nook as well as new devices such as Apple’s iPad,” the company said.

The commitment’s clear – last year the publisher released an iPhone app offering consumers a try-before-you-buy model of Paul Hoffman’s The Left Hand of God, providing free downloads of the first three chapters.

But education markets are also likely to benefit from Pearson’s shift. Pearson is the world’s biggest education company. As part of a £2bn investment across five years Pearson has introduced several digital learning products, including eCollege, PowerSchool, MyLabs and Edustructures.

At the annual Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) International Symposium, the Pearson Foundation yesterday released “The Digital World of Young Children: Emergent Literacy,” a research white paper on the effects of digital media on young children’s learning.

Authored by early childhood education experts, Arizona State University’s Jay Blanchard and Terry Moore, the white paper examines the latest research on how young children learn using increasingly personalized and mobile media, including cell phones, television, video games, smart devices, and computers.

According to this new report, digital media is already transforming the language and cultural practices that enable early literacy development, making possible a new kind of personal and global interconnectedness.

“Opportunities to develop emergent literacy skills – listening, speaking, reading, and writing – surround young children across the globe. From the one-rupee video game rooms in the Dharavi slums of Mumbai, India, to the cybercafés of Condega in the mountains of rural Nicaragua, to the Save the Children/CESVI Internet connections in the Ecole Medina Gounass shantytown of Dakar, Senegal, to the ever-present cell phones in the villa miserias of Buenos Aires or favelas of Rio de Janiero, digital media is shaping a new, emergent literacy in the lives of millions of young children,” Blanchard said.

Kathy Hurley, Pearson’s Senior Vice President for Strategic Partnerships and current Chair of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. “‘The Digital World of Young Children’ helps document the degree to which–all over the world–young people have made the leap to a fully digital way of learning. It’s essential that we understand the dynamics of this change and the potential it holds for young people, as quickly and as fully as we can.”

“A new range of digital products and iPad ‘apps’ will seek to capture a wider market, with learning products for toddlers featuring Spot the dog, maths applications for pre-school children and Penguin books that will tap into the teenage craze for Vampires,” the company has confirmed.

In a recent interview with Business Week, Penguin Group Inc. Chairman and CEO John Makinson said he expects new readers and new revenues through the digital wave.

“There is an expectation that consumers on the Apple platforms will discover they like reading e-books and that they like the price,” Makinson said.

Apple has already confirmed that Penguin, HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan Publishers Holdings Ltd., and Simon & Schuster will distribute ebooks on the iPad.

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