- On Wednesday, News Corporation officially announced it would wind down production of Amplify educational tablets and that it is also in the late stages of a negotiation to sell off the entire education unit.
- Amplify will no longer accept new customers for tablets, which it will also stop promoting, but will continue to support existing customers.
- The decision will result in a $371 million write-down for the company, which has already consolidated and made cutbacks thanks to falling profits.
News Corp. acquired Amplify five years ago in a much-watched move into the education technology business. Amplify offered exciting classroom resources, including high-quality digital curriculum. But the decision to begin offering its own tablets resulted in a host of problems, including glitchy devices, mediocre sales, and the same school infrastructure issues other tablet providers have run into with device deployments.
The adoption of technology in schools has been exciting for administrators, both for the chance to have students learn in an environment more like the modern workplace and for the opportunities to change the way instruction happens. The promise of personalized learning available at all hours prompted many companies and districts to dive in.
But districts and tech providers have struggled, as well. Many districts still lack the broadband infrastructure or bandwidth to handle a large number of devices, and companies are still sorting out how to develop products that meet teachers’ needs. Some experts say that smaller companies have been more successful than larger, less-nimble providers, who have struggled to respond to glitches and have made headlines when things faltered. That has held somewhat true in testing, where Pearson has lost several deals of late — notably in Texas and New York. But it remains to be seen if Pearson and other major players, including Google and Apple, could truly lose their ed market dominance.