I’m getting word from a source at Texas Instruments that within the next 24 to 48 hours we can expect to hear an official announcement of a blockbuster alliance being formed with Texas Instruments and Apple. Both companies are going to get significant penetration into an area of the market they previously didn’t have access to.
For Texas Instruments, a release of a TI-Nspire app is coming for the iPad and iPod Touch, which will be rolling out in May to coincide with the release of TI-Nspire OS 3.2. At a cost of around $20, an iPod or iPad and the app will still cost considerably more than the current TI-Nspire CX, but it’ll be a bargain for those that already own an iOS device.
I’m also told that this app will include all the functionality of the current handheld TI-Nspire CX, but Apple has worked with TI and the College Board to create a special “test mode.” Once test mode is entered, the iPad will be locked into the TI-Nspire app until it is synced to a computer, preventing students from using other apps or accessing WIFI and 3G/4G. The test mode is designed so that for the first time, a touch screen device will be legal on standardized tests like the ACT and SAT. This test mode is still pending official approval from ACT and the College Board (the SAT and AP sanctioning body), but I’m told Apple has used its considerable influence to obtain a handshake agreement of approval from the College Board that will be announced soon, and ACT is expected to follow suit.
For its part, Apple is also getting access to a major new market as well. That’s because Texas Instruments is planning an addition to their lineup, the TI-Nspire CX+. The CX+ will have an amazing new capability, the ability to sync with iTunes and play back music via headphones (there will be no speaker on the CX+ due to concerns about disrupting classes). Licensing access to iTunes is unprecedented for Apple and would not normally happen, but I’m told they see a tremendous opportunity to expand their dominance in the teen market for music as graphing calculators have near universal acceptance in school settings, while the iPod has continued to struggle to gain mainstream acceptance in schools.
While both companies will benefit from this alliance, it’s hard not to see Texas Instruments as the big winner here. Their new app will be almost pure profit once released, and they’re going to sell even more of the handheld Nspires once the new TI-Nspire CX+ is out.
I have no confirmation yet on the rumors of a similar alliance in the works between Casio and Google to get the Casio Prizm on the Android operating system, but hey, a guy can dream, right?
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