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News Corp. to challenge Apple's iPad in education with Amplify Tablet


News Corporation, parent company to Fox News, will enter the education sector this fall with not only a tablet-based curriculum but its own Amplify Tablet, aimed at taking on Apple's iPad in K-12 technology.

November will see Amplify, News Corp.'s nascent education division, rolling out both its own curriculum for existing tablets and a 10-inch, Android-powered tablet for K-12 students. A New York Times piece on the News Corp. tablet says the company will be selling it for between $299 and $349 per unit. Schools will also have the option of purchasing a $99 per year subscription to Amplify curriculum elements for each device.

Entering the education sector will put News Corp. at odds with Apple, a company News Corp. has collaborated with multiple times in the past, though not in the education market. From 99 cent TV show rentals to an ill-fated, iPad-only publication, News Corp. has often been among the first among major media corporations to put significant weight behind initiatives on Apple's devices. The company's Wall Street Journal publication is currently available on iOS' Newsstand app and will likely still be so when the Amplify Tablet launches later this year.

The rise of the tablet as the new face of personal computing has sparked a race among manufacturers to get their devices into the hands of students. Apple has been heavily pushing its industry-leading iPad as a replacement for PCs in education, and the company sold a million units to K-12 schools in one month last year.

Amplify's specs page for the device lists it as "similar to ASUS Transformer Pad TF300TL." It packs a 10-inch display, an NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core CPU, and a 5MP auto-focus camera with back-illuminated CMOS sensor. It also runs the "latest Android Jelly Bean OS."

The Amplify Tablet is designed with "blended learning" in mind, a method "that mixes technology with old-fashioned teaching." Initially targeted at middle-school learners, Amplify designed the device so that school systems will be able to provide each student with an Amplify device to take home each night.

When the device launches later this year, Amplify's parent company News Corporation will have split into two separate publicly traded companies. Cable channels such as FX and Fox News, as well as 20th Century Fox and Fox Broadcasting, will come under the entertainment group. Amplify and its tablet will fall under the publishing division, along with newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal and the publisher HarperCollins. The other arms of the publishing group are expected to lend content to Amplify's tablet. Rupert Murdoch will serve as chairman of both the entertainment and publishing divisions.