iOS apps are cheap — £0.99 for an application isn’t much — but it’s essential software costs are taken into consideration when purchasing iPads in bulk as these small costs, when scaled to multiple devices can become budget breaking.
In my experience, the low cost of mobile apps gives a false sense of the financial costs involved when making bulk purchases.
I was recently given a list of six applications — four at £1.99 each, two at £6.99 — and asked to install them on 64 iPads. Because the teachers involved, understandably, were looking at this transaction from the perspective of an end user they did not appreciate that when totalled the final cost would be over £1400.
Why is this?
Users very rarely, even on their home computer, install applications. When you buy a PC you might install Microsoft Office, an anti-virus, a couple of games, and maybe a web browser, but on the desktop applications are fairly consistent. The “appification” of software has resulted in end users becoming comfortable with the idea of installing new software in a way that is unlikely to result in them breaking their device or accidentally installing malware. As such they expect the same level of fluidity in their school tablets as they do their home device.
Applications are now expected to be transient, something that can be quickly installed or uninstalled and used for a very specific set of tasks. As a result bulk purchases and install times are not something that most users will consider when looking at ICT provision for their classes.
This may seem like a very obvious issue to post about, but in my experience failure to plan for or anticipate software costs outside of the cost of the device is very common, and something Network Administrators should ensure end users are aware of. Teachers need as much information as possible when considering hardware purchases, and software costs are rarely something taken into consideration.