Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp education company Amplify will stop its tablet sales after an unsatisfactory attempt to gain a market share in the education sector.
The first batch of the bright-orange, rugged tablets was recalled after its $15 million launch in Greensboro, NC. Guilford County in North Carolina had been the biggest contract for Amplify; for 2013-2014, the district paid using federal grant money about $3 million for leasing 15,000 tablets.
According to Bloomberg, the school distributed the tablets only to discover an insufficient Internet capability to support usage. In addition, tablet screens were fragile: “they could shatter if they tipped over screen side-down on a desktop.”
Amplify redesigned the tablets this time with Gorilla Glass and saw its failure rate shrink to just under 4% returned due to breakage. Other defects like unresponsive Wi-Fi continued.
The tablet shutdown news comes from company insiders who remain anonymous. The announcement first came from Bloomberg on June 26th with the company still not denying or accepting the news.
Amplify was an effort by media giant News Corp created to manage tablet sales, provide a digital curriculum and digital testing services to schools. The venture was meant to be a two-in-one education solution that offered both hardware and software to educators.
According to WallStreetScope, Amplify was ineffective in getting school district administrators to buy Amplify tablets:
“The devices were planned to act as a medium through which teachers could access class work, assign home work to students and also track online the performance of students in real time. The continued lack of success in tablet sales had led to the recent ouster of company executive who headed tablet sales effort.”
Billionaire Rupert Murdoch has invested $1 billion in Amplify, and the company makes about 1% of the $8.6 billion in annual revenue of the News Corp. In 2014, Amplify reported a $193 million loss on sales of $88 million. For the present fiscal year the loss is at $69 million, Bloomberg reports.
Asked about the news, Amplify executives highlighted their continuous support to existing Amplify customers.
The tablet computers were the first product from Amplify. In February, Stephen Smyth, head of Amplify’s tablet unit, left the company. In June, another high-profile executive — the head of the testing unit, Christopher Cerf — left the company.
According to Buzzfeed, Amplify will focus on its digital curriculum offerings that consists of embedded videos that run on a number of devices. The company says they’ve received new orders worth several million of dollars in the past few days for the Amplify software-based curriculum. A new evaluation tool project in the making will continue its operations.
News Corp CEO Robert Thomson said during a London investor conference that the company will decrease substantially its investments in Amplify.