Apple Inc unveiled a new digital textbook service called iBooks 2 on Thursday, aiming to revitalize the U.S. education market and quicken the adoption of its market-leading iPad in that sector.
The consumer electronics giant has been working on digital textbooks with publishers Pearson PLC , McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a trio responsible for 90 percent of textbooks sold in the United States.
The move pits the makers of the iPod and iPhone against Amazon.com Inc and other content and device makers that have made inroads into the estimated $8 billion market with their electronic textbook offerings.
At an event at New York’s Guggenheim Museum, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller introduced tools to craft digital textbooks and demonstrated how authors and even teachers can create books for students.
The “value of the app is directly proportional to students having iPads,” said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with industry research firm Gartner. “But this will lead to more schools adopting as a requirement.”
REINVENTING THE TEXTBOOK
Schiller said it was time to reinvent the textbook, adding that 1.5 million iPads are in use now in education.
“It’s hard not to see that the textbook is not always the ideal learning tool,” he said. “It’s a bit cumbersome.”
IBooks 2 will be available as a free app on the iPad, starting Thursday. High school textbooks will be priced at $14.99 or less, Schiller said.
“You’ll see textbooks for every subject for every level,” he added.
At the event, the first since the passing of Apple founder Steve Jobs, Schiller said teachers need help and Apple is trying to figure out how it can do its part.
“In general, education is in the dark ages,” he said, adding that education has challenges that are “pretty profound.”
Other media and technology companies have eyed the U.S. education market as ripe for some sort of upheaval. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp launched an education business two years ago and hired former New York City Education Chancellor Joel Klein to lead it.
According to Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacson, Murdoch met with Jobs last year and discussed the possibility of Apple’s entrance into a market Jobs estimated at $8 billion a year and believed was ripe for disruption.
Investment from any source in the housing sector is an appreciated aspect in today’s Indian real estate scenario, from an industry perspective. Let it be resident Indians, NRIs or even companies, constructing houses creates jobs for a lot of people. A back-of-the-napkin calculation shows that for a 1000 sq feet house, 100 direct employment opportunities (architect, building engineer, masons, helpers, electricians, plumbers, painters, carpenters, etc) and over 1000 indirect employment opportunities (people working in cement plant, brick kilns, tiles kilns, electrical fittings companies, saw mills, steel plants, paint companies, etc) are created. Of course the duration of the employment will depend on a number of factors like nearness to a supply sources for material and labour, access to high tech equipment, architecture, etc.
But to construct a house is not all that easy. It is not without substance that a Tamil saying goes, “Veetai Katti Par, Kalyanathai Panni Par” (Basically the saying rates constructing a house and having a child’s marriage done among the toughest).
To an already difficult task, the sheer distance and absence during construction become problems that multiply, for the NRIs. There was an NRI based out of the USA who got a wonderful sales pitch from a builder. The salesman met the NRI at his office in the USA and arranged for all the documentation and also sent video clippings of the apartment at Bangalore. Convinced on the genuineness, the NRI transferred Rs.50 lakhs to the builder’s account. The date for the house warming was fixed after one month. The NRI could not make it to the function due to some pressing work and had asked his parents to do the poojas.
The parents got the shock of their life, when they landed at the apartment complex the day before the poojas. The complex had only one sample apartment finished (the one in the video). They were told by the Project Manager at the site that the poojas can be done at anytime but the apartment can be delivered only after “6 months”.
Another NRI who was building the house himself using an experienced and well referenced engineer found that his house orientation has been shifted by 15 feet. This left him space on the wrong side of the house squashing his plans to build a small commercial complex in future. They now have space for parking 4 cars but none for building a rent-worthy space.
Is There a Way Out?
A number of checks could have been used to be on the safer side in both the above cases:
1. There are a number of professional builders who are a lot more trustworthy. So doing a bit of research on the track record of a builder can help.
2. For any real estate purchase it is preferable to make visits to the sites before buying them. This exercise is worth it not only because you are committing a large amount of money but also because reversing the decision proves costly as well. If an NRI is not able to make it, he can request a trusted friend or relative to opt for the site visit.
3. Going for a housing loan through a bank will ensure that the money is released in stages only. This keeps the money safe during the construction. Also, all the banks at their local branches, have their list of shortlisted builders for whose constructions loans are pre-approved. It is better to buy only these constructions, as the banks are quite stringent in their norms for pre-approval and shortlist only those builders who have a proven track record and those projects, which comply with all legal norms.
4. Post the construction, the management of the asset is one of the major issues faced by NRIs. There is no easy solution for this. There are some society associations which support the owners of the buildings with services like maintenance and rent collection. There are again the “friendly neighborhood real estate agents” who may sometimes double up as the maintenance manager too. There are a few professional real estate management firms in most metros, who are now expanding into the 2nd Tier cities too.
5. Some of the other checks for any real estate purchase are:
a. Whether the construction rate quoted is for Built-up area or Carpet area? Construction is generally quoted for built-up area and rental is quoted only for the carpet area. There can be a difference of 15 % to 20% between the two based on the type of construction. Today in apartments there is the concept of super built-up area which apart from the built-up area includes stair case, common passages, fire escape passage, etc. The super built-up area can be bloated by as much as 50% of the carpet area.
b. Robert Allen, the Real Estate Mogul suggests the 100 – 20 – 10 – 1 rule for any real estate purchase. The idea is to check out 100 properties in person; shortlist 20 of them for a deeper scrutiny; enter into negotiation with sellers for 10 of the properties and finally buy the ONE that is best suited .
c. Technically there should be a check for all the statutory approvals – town planning (Nobody wants a flyover at arms length from the balcony!), water supply and sewage disposal, safety approval from the local fire department, etc. It is always better to ask for the encumbrance certificate and the title deed from the builder to get a legal opinion from a lawyer.
6. Don’t hesitate to ask. This is probably the most important point. Many times, for avoiding being thought of as less intelligent, we question less. For any investing and particularly for real estate the more the questions asked the better the investment. The genuineness of the promoter can be gauged by the patience, the promptness and depth of the answers. Answers like, “Don’t worry about that, we will manage”, without going into the specifics are danger signs.
7. Take time. Do not restrain yourself by limiting the time for checking the properties and decision making to the time that you are present in India. A 2 to 4 week holiday cannot be hoped to be converted into a real estate investment period. Start the process before you come here. In case you cannot decide before you leave, it is okay. A Power of Attorney to a parent or a relative can be used to decide on the actual purchase even after you India.
So, you have been trying to guess for some time now, your gut feeling says that yes, she is definitely into you but your mind suggests that you shouldn’t proceed unless you are a bit more sure. When faced with the predicament of finding out whether she is actually interested in you or not, check-out the following signs:
1. She Makes Suggestive Eye Contact
Eye contact or ‘eye play’ as it is referred to by many people, is perhaps the most suggestive and confirmative of all signs. If her eye contact with you is devoid of too many blinks, if she doesn’t hesitate to stare back at you and if you find her trying to make eye contact with you even from a distance, you have definitely managed to impress her in some way.
2. She Keeps Suggesting Catching A Cup Of Coffee Together
Asking out a lady for a cup of coffee remains the most formal and accepted forms of initiating the process of getting familiar with the fairer sex, helping to establish if the liking is mutual. Once a male bastion, girls are open to asking out men for coffee these days and if she has asked you out repeatedly, she is indirectly hinting that she enjoys your company and wants you to take the next step.
3. She Keeps Getting Closer When Being Distant Is An Option
Have you have noticed that even during formal conversation and in circumstances when physical proximity wasn’t needed, she seemed unusually close to you? She might change her seat during a meeting or lunch to be seated next to you or might repeatedly shake hands with you for casual congratulations or lean over your desk when having a conversation, when standing upright seemed feasible. These are sure signs of her growing interest in you.
4. She Seems To Have A Regular Schedule For You
Trying to think of the last few days—if it seems that she has created a pattern that includes wishing your good morning and the evening goodbye with a big smile, messaging you goodnight, emailing you happy quotes or jokes and being curious about what you had for lunch, it suggests that she has put some thought into ensuring that you are reminded about her presence throughout the day.
5. Her Availability Is Never An Issue
Either at her desk, at the gym or even during a late-night call, it seems that she always has time for you. Even if her phone is busy, she makes it a point to call you back immediately. Even if she seems overloaded with work, she makes a point to exchange pleasantries with you or ask about your day.
6. She Molds Conversations Towards Opportunities Of Companionship
If conversations with her have been lately carrying subtle hints about going out together, exploring new eating joints or doing a combo purchase on that new online deal, it is highly suggestive that she is seeking your company or is at least, indicating that she enjoys your presence—whether in a platonic manner or romantic, you need to scrape further.
7. She Is Ready To Counsel You
If it seems that she is always there trying to help you or counsel you over the smallest issue you might have told her about, chances of her being interfering or over-friendly also arise but it is also possible that she is trying to show her interest in your life. If she seems genuinely interested and constantly takes updates about your problems, it is most likely she cares for you in some capacity.
8. Some Openly Flirtatious Gestures
Occasionally, licking or biting her lips in a slightly seductive manner when you guys are talking and teasing you about your purely bachelor status are gestures that you have ignited some degree of liking for you within her. If her seemingly innocent smiles have been getting more frequent and she has been forwarding you naughty SMSs regularly, it is time you asked her out. If some of the most dependable female traits are decoded in terms of their flirtatious intent, then the tendency of a lady to repeatedly flick her hair or run her fingers through her mane is perhaps the most established signs of her seductive tendencies taking over.
9. She Has Been Probing You
If you find out that she has been trying to keep a tab on you, finding more about your personal and professional life from acquaintances or getting too curious on Facebook, it is a definite sign that is genuinely interested in you.
10. She Despises Other Women Near You
Call it jealously or possessiveness, but most women are vulnerable to openly displaying their disgust for their men being poached upon by other women, even those whom you have declared as your friend or an office sister. If you see her frowning or getting upset whenever you get too pally with your female office mates, you can assume that she thinks of you two together in some way
A year after top Ivy League institutes in the United States began revamping their MBA programmes, in the process challenging decades of conventional business wisdom, India’s top-rung B-schools are attempting something similar.
An overhauled syllabus with new subjects thrown in and old ones scrubbed out is expected to be ready for 2012-13 at many premier institutes.
The Indian School of Business (ISB), Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), IIM-Kozhikode (IIM-K), and S P Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJIMR) are some of the schools attempting to bridge the gap between classroom wisdom and business realities.
Subjects like ethics, corporate social responsibility and management mantras from the Bhagavad Gita have made a debut along with hardship stints in backward villages and mandatory internships with NGOs.
That should come as soup for the soul of a battle-weary India Inc hunting for socially-responsible and innovative leaders, right? Not quite.
The view from industry is that most of the changes in the curriculum are cosmetic and do little to tackle the root of the malaise at Indian B-schools – that they serve to create an elite social network and are clueless about the way business is run in real life.
Senior executives say the top-tier schools, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), are out of sync with corporates and do not have enough good quality research emerging.
“Some executives I have spoken to find it hard to imagine that a student can grasp concepts of marketing without selling anything to anybody; or the concepts of operations if they have never spent time on a factory floor,” says Professor Srikant Datar of HBS, co-author of ‘Rethinking the MBA’.
The B-schools counter that India Inc is fixated on short-term goals, reluctant to provide information for research and has a limited knowledge base. “Our context is learning and not quarterly performance and that may be why there is seen to be no connect between our teachings and corporate life.
But our corporates too are obsolete in their knowledge, yet we take their voices seriously,” says IIM-K director Debashis Chatterjee. “Each of us has different mandates; the shared space is defined by learning. That shared space needs to be explored,” adds the professor.
IIM-K is doing its bit to become more relevant by cutting back 10% of its regular content and making place for unstructured thinking.
The B-school is also working on breaking silos created in B-schools.
These silos typically have specialised faculty for operations, human resources, marketing and other such fields. “We decided to change curriculum so that these subjects are integrated in some way,” explains Chatterjee.
The attempt, he says, is to ensure that when students get into a company, they are able to integrate different functions for one goal.
“In fact last year, 32 members of our faculty got together to teach one course over five days,” adds the IIM-K director.