(Reuters) - Apple Inc unveiled a new digital textbook service called iBooks 2 on Thursday, as the iPad maker aims to revitalize the education market.
Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller said it was time to reinvent the textbook, adding that 1.5 million iPads are in use in education.
"It's hard not to see that the textbook is not always the ideal learning tool," he said. "It's a bit cumbersome."
IBooks 2 will be available as a free app on the iPad, starting Thursday.
Some media and technology companies have eyed the U.S. education market as ripe for some sort of upheaval. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp launched an education business two years ago and hired former New York City Education Chancellor Joel Klein to lead it.
At an event at New York's Guggenheim Museum, the first since the passing of Apple founder Steve Jobs, Schiller said teachers need help and Apple is trying to figure out how it can do its part.
"In general, education is in the dark ages," he said, adding that education has challenges that are "pretty profound."
According to Jobs' biography by Walter Isaacson, Murdoch met with Jobs last year and discussed the possibility of Apple's entrance into a market Jobs estimated at $8 billion a year and believed was ripe for disruption.
(Reporting By Yinka Adegoke and Nicola Leske in New York and Poornima Gupta in San Francisco; editing by Mark Porter)