April 20th, 2010
Welcome to this morning’s Daily Research Update. Today’s themes are texting, digital textbooks, and the Higher Education Bubble. If you want more context for this research, take a look at our Education and Technology Trends for 2010. You may also be interested in our Weekly Research Index, or you can follow our live, daily research on our Current News page.
(Click here to see a simple listing of today’s suggested reading)
The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has released a study on Teens and Mobile Phones, with some interesting and telling statistics. The bottom line — communication habits among teens getting ready to enter college continue to evolve towards short messaging.
Daily text messaging among American teens has shot up in the past 18 months from 38% of teens texting friends daily in February of 2008, to 54% of teens texting daily in September 2009. And its not just frequency – teens are sending enormous quantities of text messages a day. Half of teens send 50 or more text messages a day, or 1,500 texts a month and one in three send more than 100 texts a day, or more than 3,000 texts a month. Older teen girls ages 14-17 lead the charge on text messaging, averaging 100 messages a day for the entire cohort. The youngest teen boys are the most resistant to texting – averaging 20 messages per day.
In publishing, we have released a new quarterly report on the future of digital textbooks. In the study, we look at five-year projections based on current sales and technology trends.
Over the next five years, digital textbook sales in the United States will surpass 18% of combined new textbook sales for the Higher Education and Career Education markets. This increase will boost revenues for digital textbooks to more than $1 billion and necessitate a general overhaul of traditional textbook production processes. The growth will also create avenues for new content publishers to enter the textbook market, lead to fundamental shifts in purchasing patterns around learning materials, and expedite the formal adoption of open educational resources to augment premium digital content. Our five-year projections assume a current market share of 0.5% for digital textbooks in the U.S., and an average yearly increase in sales growth of approximately 100% over the next five years. We project that growth to taper to approximately 30% annual growth for the ensuing five years (2015-2019).
In conjunction with our study on digital textbooks, we are also releasing a series of interview segments in which I comment on the implications of the study for publishing and education. In Part 1, I explain the possible implications of a growth in digital textbook sales from 0.5% to 18%-20% of new textbook revenue. In Part 2, I answer the following questions: 1) How will the change occur? Will publishers embrace it? 2) What are the primary factors precipitating the growth of the digital textbook market? 3) How will textbook publishing profit models be affected?
And, I think everyone should make a point of reading Michael Feldstein’s recent article — DIY U: Is There a Bubble in the Higher Education Market?. In it, he discusses (referencing a number of studies), the rising costs of a college education versus the ROI or value of that education. He likens it to other investments that become over-priced, and asks what will happen if the “bubble” bursts. Here are two points from his conclusion.
- If there is a bubble and it bursts, it wouldn’t necessarily mean the end of higher education as we know it, but it would probably mean large and painful contractions in college budgets leading to layoffs, cuts in services and the closing of a significant number of colleges.
- Students in the “sub-prime” position who are taking on large amounts of high-interest debt to get educations from low-performing schools are likely to be hurt worst as those schools crumple under the hardships caused by the bubble bursting. And, unlike your home, your education is a fundamentally illiquid asset. You can’t sell off your diploma, even at a loss, to pay back your bank loans. These students will be screwed six ways from Sunday, which is even more ways than they’re getting screwed now.
Also, take note that Facebook now commands 41% of social media traffic. In fact, Facebook and YouTube are pretty much taking over the social Web. “Taking a look at the unique visitors charts, we see the widespread migration from MySpace to Facebook even more clearly. As of March 2010, Facebook traffic made up 41% of all traffic on a list of popular social destinations. MySpace was in second place, capturing around 24% of traffic. Gmail had 15%, and Twitter had 8%. However, during the same period in 2009, MySpace was in the lead with 38% of site visits over Facebook’s 33%.”
And finally, on a purely selfish note, I see that new iPad 3G orders are set to ship by May 7, although those of us who pre-ordered may still receive ours in late April. “According to an e-mail message Apple sent out Monday morning, the company still intends to ship preorders by the end of this month, as promised.”
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