With the introduction of the “double reduction” policy of the relevant departments, the online education field has ushered in major changes. According to the requirements of the “double reduction” policy, discipline training has been suspended, and unlisted educational enterprises are also prohibited from listing for capitalization; It is strictly forbidden to use tools such as “photo search”… This set of regulatory combination has been launched, and the share prices of many education stocks have started to fall.
In the face of the changes in the general environment, many online education players have also opened the path of transformation and survival. Some online education players choose to turn left and start to layout quality education; There are also online education companies that choose to turn to the right and add code to the intelligent hardware field of education.
Intelligent hardware for education has come to the forefront
(Picture from Canva can be drawn)
Smart education hardware has become a hot spot
The field of educational intelligent hardware is not a hot spot. So why do so many online education platforms choose to enter the field of educational intelligent hardware?
On the one hand, the transformation of online education players is imminent. Taking Gaotu Group (with whom to learn) as an example, according to its Q4 financial report data in 2020, K12 online course revenue was 1.975 billion yuan, up 155.6% year on year, accounting for 89.33% of the total revenue; The cash revenue of K12 online course was 2.923 billion yuan, accounting for 92.90% of the company’s total cash revenue. In the whole fiscal year 2020, K12 online course revenue was 6.237 billion yuan, up 265.5% year on year.
Although the proportion of K12 business in education companies such as New Oriental and Netease Youdao cannot be compared with that of Gaotu Group, with the continuous expansion of K12 business by various education giants, its capital investment will not be small. Now, the implementation of the “double reduction” policy means that companies must cut the “cash cow” of discipline training. For the education platform, there is no doubt that it has lost an important source of revenue. Therefore, companies are in urgent need of transformation to find new revenue growth points.
On the other hand, the market of educational intelligent hardware is broad. Affected by the COVID-19, not only the online education industry has entered a period of rapid development, but also educational intelligent hardware has been rapidly popularized. According to intelligent research consulting data, the scale of China’s intelligent education hardware market in 2020 was 34.3 billion yuan, up 9.9% year on year. In addition, according to the data of iMedia Consulting, it is expected that the educational intelligent hardware will reach a market scale of 100 billion in three years.
In addition, the favorable policy is also an important reason why the field of educational intelligent hardware is being pursued. In 2016, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued the “Special Action for the Innovation and Development of Intelligent Hardware Industry (2016-2018)”, which proposed to strengthen the intellectualization of education and other fields; In 2018, the Ministry of Education issued the Education Informatization 2.0 Action Plan, which proposed to promote the model reform and ecological reconstruction of education supported by new technologies.
What are the advantages of transforming hardware
Although players in the online education field choose smart hardware for education with extra code, which is related to the overall changes of the industry, it is not a blind choice, but a certain consideration.
First, content can empower hardware products. High-quality content is the most core competitiveness of all education platforms that can stand out from the industry melee. Now the education platforms that can occupy a place in the field of online education have their own fields of expertise. For example, in terms of English content, New Oriental is a little better; TAL (XRS) has more prominent advantages in mathematics, physics and biology. And these high-quality content will also be the best help for the education giants to transform into hardware.
Secondly, the brand effect helps to enhance the popularity of hardware products. Compared with the unknown educational intelligent hardware products, users tend to choose products with a certain popularity. Now many educational giants, such as New Oriental, TAL, Netease Youdao, and Homehelp, have successfully achieved popularity and gathered a number of loyal users. After they transform into educational intelligent hardware, their brand influence will still affect users’ choice of educational intelligent hardware products to a certain extent.
Finally, there is a certain foundation for online education players to do hardware. Although the “double reduction” policy has only recently been implemented, the education giants are not just starting to make educational intelligent hardware products. As early as 2014, New Oriental launched the educational hardware product – Okay eTextbook; In 2017, Homehelp launched an intelligent problem learning machine (meow machine), and won the top 1 in the category of domestic e-commerce printers; In August 2019, Netease Youdao released Netease Youdao Dictionary Pen 2.0. It can be seen that the transformation of online education into intelligent education hardware is not a hot idea, but has a certain foundation.
More challenges in new areas
At present, educational intelligent hardware may become a lifeline for online education players, but educational intelligent hardware is not a bone to chew, and there are many challenges to be faced in the field of educational intelligent hardware.
On the one hand, the field of educational intelligent hardware has been deeply cultivated by old players for many years. Educational technology companies, represented by Bubugao and Shulang, have been deeply engaged in the field of hardware for many years. Neither product technology nor user audience are comparable to online education companies that have transformed into hardware. For example, Bubugao has been manufacturing educational hardware for more than 20 years since its establishment, and has successively launched multiple categories of products, such as repeaters, electronic dictionaries, learning computers, point readers, learning machines, and tutoring machines.
From the perspective of learning tablet computer alone, according to the data of the second quarter of 2020, Bubugao, Shulang and Youzhi ranked in the top three with 41.8%, 10.40% and 9.10% market shares respectively.
On the other hand, there are many new players. Not only the education industry giants, but also many Internet giants have targeted the field of educational intelligent hardware. For example, ByteDance set up the education brand “Vigorously Education” and launched an educational intelligent hardware product – Vigorously Intelligent Operation Light; Alibaba has also laid out the field of educational intelligence hardware and launched “Tmall Smart E1″… The strong financial support of these Internet giants is enough to make it go further in the field of educational intelligence.
Finally, the technical problem is also a big problem. Different from the service nature of online education companies, educational intelligent hardware should be manufactured in kind, which also puts forward new requirements for online education companies to transform into educational intelligent hardware. For example, what kind of educational intelligent hardware to make, how to better present the content, how to better combine AI technology and hardware products, and so on, all these problems need to be solved by online education players who are about to transform.
Education hardware, a lasting war
In general, it is easy to transform and manufacture educational intelligent hardware, but it is not easy to manufacture good and popular educational intelligent hardware.
For users, hardware content is very important. On the surface, users purchase educational intelligent hardware products. In fact, users purchase the contents of hardware products. With similar prices, users often choose to provide more educational intelligent hardware products. In addition, the content setting should be vivid and interesting, especially for hardware products for young children. The content setting should be able to mobilize the enthusiasm of users.
From the perspective of products, hardware functions should be different. If the target user is young children, the appearance of educational intelligent hardware should be unique, the content should be lively and vivid, and the hardware should not be too difficult to operate; If the target user is a self-control senior student, the function should be more comprehensive and the content setting should be more rigorous. For different user groups, it is necessary to accurately grasp user needs and manufacture educational intelligent hardware products that meet the actual situation of users.
From the perspective of market scale, the field of educational intelligent hardware is expected to reach a market scale of 100 billion, but it is still slightly inferior to the field of online education. In addition, educational intelligent hardware needs large R&D investment, and the R&D cycle is long. Compared with online education, the profit margin of educational intelligent hardware is lower, and the speed of withdrawal of funds is slower. In a word, it is still difficult to save the loss of discipline business by relying on education intelligent hardware.
With the influx of more and more players, the field of educational intelligent hardware will also face a fierce battle. As for which company can stand out from this war, it will take time to verify.