Image source: Visual China
The pan-learning machine market has ushered in unprecedented changes.
A few days ago, Homework Gang announced that its meow machine has been upgraded to an intelligent problem learning machine, which can be used independently from mobile phones. Previously, following the release of the first smart desk lamp by ByteDance in October 2020, it was recently reported that educational institutions such as New Oriental, Good Future, and Homework Gang are preparing smart lamp projects.
In addition, the education tablet that belongs to the pan-learning machine market has also become a battlefield for online education companies, Internet manufacturers, education information companies and traditional learning machine players.
20 years ago, “PPT+audio” learning machines that digitized book content were all the rage. Nowadays, interactive content and personalized service are becoming the new trend of learning machines.
In this “battlefield” where new and old players compete on the same stage, no one wants to be eliminated.
In the face of new needs, traditional supplementary content, content occupies the entrance, and technology expands the boundary, all in order to adapt to the opportunities of the times brought by technological change.
Miss once and lose the future
When it comes to the original learning machine market, go back in time to the 90s.
In 1993, Xiaobawang, which started with a copycat Nintendo red and white machine, launched the first generation of computer learning machines, which came with functions such as typing practice, word memorization and programming introduction on the basis of game consoles. “You shoot one, I shoot one, the little bully is out of the learning machine…” once became a classic in the advertising industry.
After a year, the second generation of the little bully computer learning machine was launched, and Jackie Chan was invited to speak for it, “the same is the heart of the world’s parents, hope that the son of Jackie Chan Little Bully” became a household name for a while.
With its relatively low price and catchy advertising slogans, Xiaobawang quickly rose to the throne of the learning machine market, accounting for 80% of the market at its peak.
According to statistics, from 1991 to 1999, the cumulative sales of Xiaobawang exceeded 20 million units.
Although it is positioned as a learning machine, in the era of relatively scarce material resources and relatively single entertainment methods, it is false to use the little bully computer learning machine to learn, but playing games is true. Some users use learning machines to practice typing, but more are addicted to games such as Super Mario, Contra, and Squirrel Wars, and playing games under the slogan of learning has become an unspeakable tacit understanding of a generation.
At the same time, with the rise of English learning, products such as repeaters and electronic dictionaries have also become popular.
Wenquxing, which has built-in English-Chinese dictionaries and classic documents, has sold 60 million electronic dictionaries since its launch in 1995.
However, no matter how glorious the history is, it cannot withstand the changes of the times and the change of technology, and it cannot change with the times, and the building will eventually collapse in an instant.
The turning point was in the 00-10s.
In 2007, the first generation of iPhone was launched in the United States, announcing the arrival of the mobile Internet era. Smartphones have entered people’s field of vision, and PC applications have gradually extended to mobile terminals.
While the iPhone was on the rise, another mobile phone brand, Nokia, was gradually declining. This button feature phone that once defeated Motorola to the global mobile phone leader and occupied half of the mobile phone market in the glory period, but because of the missed smart phone, gave up Android and chose Symbian, under the clamp of iPhone and Samsung, finally sold at a price of 7.17 billion yuan to stop loss.
Nokia did not think about “self-help”. In 2011, Nokia announced a partnership with Microsoft, and in the same year launched the first smartphone after the cooperation, the Nokia Lumia 800, in an attempt to transition from the Symbian operating system to the Windows Phone operating system. But late is too late, missed once and lost the future, this former mobile phone overlord finally ended in 2013.
In order to return to the game market, in 2014, it and Alibaba Cloud launched the G20 game console, which focuses on nostalgia and built-in classic games such as “Contra”, “Street Fighter” and “The King of Fighters”. Four years later, Xiaobawang released the “Z+ new gaming computer” on ChinaJoy, claiming to be a game console with AMD’s custom ZEN architecture CPU.
But the ending is still unsatisfactory. The little bully G20 has long been “found without this machine”, and the game console was also ridiculed by netizens as “having the appearance of the host and the heart of the PC”, and finally ended with the dissolution of the team.
The same situation is happening in the field of learning machines.
Under the impact of competing products such as Haoji Xing, BBK, and Shulang, Little Bully Learning Machine and Wenqu Star finally stayed in the memory of a generation and disappeared into the torrent of the times.
The “old players” who are in urgent need
The cycle of history is always playing out.
Compared with the little bully and Wenquxing, who was a “back wave” at that time, BBK, Shulang, and Youxue … Today, it has also become a “front wave”, and is called a traditional learning machine player. Previously, although the learning machines launched by these “old players” have changed in form, the electronic mode of “PPT+audio” books has not fundamentally changed.
When the mobile Internet began to popularize, cloud technology developed rapidly, and educational content access became more and more convenient, and even showed a trend of flooding, the traditional learning machine model of integrating content and electronic books with only one-way information transmission can no longer meet the needs of users.
In the end, the reading machine supporting the textbook was replaced by a scanning pen with text recognition technology, and the backgammon point reader of “where will not be clicked” has also become a thing of the past.
During the same period, tablets began to rise in the market. In January 2010, Apple first released the first generation of the iPad series, providing functions such as browsing the Internet, sending and receiving email, watching e-books, playing audio or video, and playing games.
This portable, touchable product is also gradually used in the field of learning machines.
Bidding farewell to the era of electronic dictionaries and point readers, the learning machine market is emerging in a new form, that is, educational tablets.
“Natural selection, survival of the fittest” is not only applicable to the biological field. In order to avoid the end of dying on the beach, some “old players” are trying to adapt to the needs of the new market through “evolution”.
The essence of education is content and services, and the “porters” who only do content can easily be replaced by latecomers. Take Yoshuro, for example, who is “self-helping” by filling in the content.
In July 2019, Yoshulang established an online school and placed online school content in the learning tablet, and users can watch the recording and live classes of the online school for free as long as they purchase the tablet, so as to build an education ecology of “hard selling software”.
In the view of Deng Denghui, COO of Reading Lang, self-research content, from a commercial point of view, can ensure that resources are not controlled by others; From the user’s point of view, compared with the integrated educational resources, the self-developed content is more related and systematic to each other, the degree of collaboration between software and hardware is higher, and the user experience will be better.
On April 27, Yoshulang submitted a prospectus to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to list in Hong Kong. According to its prospectus, the shipments of smart education tablet business from 2018 to 2020 were 399,600 units, 456,900 units and 484,600 units.
On the other hand, Youxuepai, which also belongs to “old players”, launched its first AI learning machine, the student tablet U39, last year. At the same time, its parent company, Youxue World, also submitted a prospectus in January this year to rush to the Growth Enterprise Market.
According to the prospectus, from 2017 to 2019, the sales volume of Youxuepai educational tablet products were 450,500 units, 549,700 units and 562,700 units, respectively, and the market share in the domestic educational tablet market was 12.18%, 14.09% and 13.72% respectively.
Although the “old players” have accumulated channels and reputation for many years, they are also actively transforming, but they are still facing heavy pressure in the transformation process.
The pressure not only comes from the competition between peers, but also the “entry” of Internet giants and online education companies also makes them feel “dangerous”.
Those ambitious “back waves”
IDC data shows that in the context of the continuous decline in global tablet shipments, China’s educational tablet computers continue to improve, in 2019 China’s education tablet shipments reached 4.1 million units, a year-on-year increase of 6.4%, and is expected to increase to 4.7 million units by 2021, with a compound annual growth rate of 6.16% during 2017-2021.
According to the “Educational Tablet PC Market Prospects”, the size of China’s educational tablet computer market reached 14.448 billion yuan in 2019, and it is expected to increase to 64.436 billion yuan by 2024, with a compound annual growth rate of 34.85% from 2019 to 2024, with a broad market space.
The attractive market prompts both the entrants and the non-entrants to want a piece of the pie. Internet giants want to expand boundaries, online education companies want to occupy user-level entrances, and education information companies intend to establish moats…
In April 2020, Huawei released the first learning tablet MatePad for primary and secondary school students, which in addition to basic intelligent eye protection and content control, online education apps such as Youdao Boutique Course, Xueersi Online School, and Nanobox are pre-installed in the Huawei Education Center.
Following Huawei, Baidu also launched its first learning tablet, Xiaodu Intelligent Learning Tablet, in March this year. The tablet focuses on sitting posture correction and eye protection, and through cooperation with 51Talk, customized gesture interaction, sitting posture reminder, set alarm clock lesson reminder and other functions; At the same time, more than 400 online course apps are pre-installed inside.
ByteDance chose another path – lamp making, and launched its first educational intelligent hardware product “Vigorous Intelligent Work Light” in October 2020. The product is equipped with AI cameras to provide students with services such as smart fingertip word search, smart English reading, and smart correction, and parents can also remotely tutor their children’s homework through real-time messaging.
While big manufacturers are entering the learning machine market, online education companies are also about to move. Following the launch of the intelligent learning machine OK learning machine in April 2020, and in March 2021, 51Talk released its first hardware product, 51Talk English learning machine, according to “LatePost”, New Oriental, Good Future, Homework Gang, etc. are also preparing for the smart desk lamp project, and Ape Tutoring has signed an order for smart clipboard with the factory and set up a hardware team in Shenzhen.
iFLYTEK, which started with intelligent voice processing technology, also launched two learning machine products in July 2020, covering the K12 X2 Pro and the Z1 smart machine for junior and senior high school students.
Zhang Jidong, person in charge of iFLYTEK intelligent learning machine, introduced that unlike Huawei, Baidu and other tool learning tablets, iFLYTEK intelligent learning machine has stronger interactive and personalized attributes, and is a personalized and accurate learning method that integrates software and hardware. The product has functions such as AI speaking teacher, AI unsupervised memorization, AI wrong question book, etc., to find the weak points of students’ knowledge through daily practice, and recommend similar practice questions for students through the existing knowledge graph, and is equipped with 1~3 minutes of recorded micro-lesson video to explain knowledge points.
“War forms” with their own merits
Online education enterprises rely on content, Internet giants rely on technology, and education informatization enterprises focus on intelligence, and each seems to have its own advantages. However, as a “latecomer” in the learning machine market, their road to “survival” is not all smooth sailing.
Zhang Jidong told Mustard that the biggest challenge facing iFLYTEK intelligent learning machines at present is the constraints of user concepts and habits. “For parents, this concept [of personalized learning] has never been heard of before, which means that when he chooses in the market, he will prefer traditional learning machines with high recognition.”
Deng Teng-hui also has the same view. He said that products such as smart desk lamps, especially in third- and fourth-tier cities, user habits have not yet been established, and it still takes a period of marketing promotion and user habit cultivation, and the sinking market, broad channel providers and self-developed content are the competitive barriers built by Shulang.
For the future learning machine market pattern, Zhang Jidong believes that due to years of word of mouth and channel accumulation, the current traditional learning machine and tablet still have a certain market, but with the improvement of user education concept, AI personalized new learning machine “will definitely become a very important mainstream product in the future”.
“Tablet is the best carrier for this time period, may not be in the future, with the iteration of product technology, there may be new forms.” Deng Deng-hui said.
On the “battlefield” where new and old players compete on the same stage, everyone is fighting hard. Maybe someone is one step ahead, but at least it is not yet dominant, and it is not too late to enter the game. As for the future, in this era of technological change, who can adapt to the changes of the times, meet or even exceed user expectations, who can become the final “winner”.