Apple's ability to create low-cost products and sell them at premium luxury prices has led them to a greater amount of cash than the Russian stock market and the combined market capitalization of Boeing and Nike. The big question is whether Apple has the obligation to spend this huge pile of cash. And, if so, how?
My suggestion: Apple should launch the largest university without license plates in the world.
The company has its roots in academia and its brand is very good with creative services and education. But, ultimately, I also believe that this idea is a great profit opportunity.
How can Apple make it free and profitable? It needs to "flip" the current funding model, making it free for students and charging companies to recruit there. For the time being, companies go to universities and consider them their giant human resources departments. The reasons are obvious. Universities are excellent for selecting candidates, choosing smart people, ensuring that they can work in groups and that they are emotionally stable. Universities are not in the business of education, as much as they are in the business of granting credentials to their students. Apple would be very good to attract the best candidates. And in exchange for access to these students, companies would be willing to pay a large amount of money.
Corporate earnings are at an all time high. Student debt is at an all time high. Then, we must turn the model and put the costs of education in the corporation. Apple could also implement a bidding system, similar to what Google and Facebook do in advertising, where companies are betting to have access to the best students for the first time.
Apple already has between 60 and 70 percent. It has the brand and will attract incredible applicants. What makes a quality school? Sure, it's the faculty, but above all it's the ability of the brand to attract the best and brightest. As long as the best and brightest apply to your program, you will have the best and brightest faculty.
As long as you have the best and brightest faculty, you will have the best recruiters that come forward, who will pay more. And as long as you have recruiters who will pay as many times as they submit, you get the best and brightest application.
Apple would immediately get several million applications. Or enough applications where they can have an exceptional faculty. And then, by offering a free tuition, they can put competitive pressure on my colleagues to start offering classes at a lower price. This is desperately necessary because we currently have this cartel that makes OPEC look mimosa and socially conscious.
I work with one of the best faculties in the world, and I think two thirds could leave and not get lost. Now, does that mean they should be fired? No. But does it mean that they should earn as much money as they do, without the same competitive pressures that everyone faces in the market? Of course, no. This only translates into outrageous fees that children finance with debt. Which means that they receive houses later; which means that families start later; which means they run less risk: it's a drain on the economy.
So, I think a good dose of this technology-inspired competence and efficiency would be great for the academy. Today, we currently have the wrong attitude. We move people away and we take pride in our exclusivity. It's like a shelter for the homeless presuming on people who do not let the door pass. The whole mentality is screwed.
Apple stores can be used as a campus for Apple University. The stores are in very dense and populated areas; they are not used after hours and they are already starting to give some classes.
Alternatively, what would happen if Apple had taken its spaceship and turned it into a university? What would happen if they said it was a university from 6 in the evening until 10 at night? What if they say that three percent of its 150,000 employees who have the best and brightest credentials in the company become adjunct professors at this university?
With Apple's earnings, I think it could start the equivalent of the University of Texas, the University of California or the state system of Michigan, but ultimately, I think it could start the largest free registration system in the United States. It would be good for society, it is based on your brand and I think it would be very profitable. What would really be reduced, to make all this work, is execution.
As told to WIRED by the head of consulting Tom Upchurch
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