McGraw-Hill on iPad launch: We didn't get booted; we weren't part of it

Remarks by CEO led some to believe the publisher was privy to iPad details before the launch, but that wasn't the case. It was never part of the event to begin with, says a spokesman.

John Paczkowski
3 min read

Though it may have seemed like another of Apple's perfectly timed third-party leaks (and I certainly mistook it for that), McGraw-Hill CEO Terry McGraw's remarks to CNBC earlier this week were nothing of the sort. The publisher tells me that it was not privy to iPad prelaunch details and that to conclude otherwise is a misinterpretation of McGraw's comments.

"As a company deeply involved in the digitization of education and business information, we were as interested as anyone in the launch of the new device, although we were never part of the launch event and never in a position to confirm details about the device ahead of time," Steven Weiss, VP of corporate communications for The McGraw-Hill Companies, said in a statement given to Digital Daily.

Steve Jobs and the iPad.
Steve Jobs lounges with the iPad at the launch event in San Francisco on Wednesday. James Martin/CNET

"On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. McGraw appeared on CNBC in a wide-ranging interview to discuss our earnings announcement and growth projections for 2010. His speculative comments about Apple's pending launch, which he shared earlier in the day in a call with investors, were simply intended to suggest that if the new device were to use iPhone applications, many of our education products would be compatible with the technology and could be made easily available on it."

Concluding, Weiss wrote, "Unfortunately, it seems that many mistakenly interpreted his comments as being more specific to yesterday's announcement. It is also important to note that only the products of trade publishers were featured in the launch event. Our digital education programs are not in that category and were never part of those negotiations."

It would seem, then, that contrary to other reports making the rounds, McGraw-Hill was not abruptly excised from Apple CEO Steve Jobs' presentation Wednesday after Terry McGraw's disclosure on CNBC. And indeed, multiple sources close to the situation say that the CEO was not given a demo of the iPad before its launch and that McGraw-Hill was never intended to be part of iPad launch event in San Francisco.

In retrospect, all McGraw really did on CNBC was to recycle and recast some comments made during the company's Tuesday morning earnings conference call. Reading over those remarks, it seems plausible that he was simply excitedly regurgitating the same collection of rumor and speculation we all were during the run-up to the launch event.

"In the near future, you will undoubtedly see a McGraw-Hill e-book for the college market running on an Apple tablet," McGraw said during the company's earnings call. "All our titles on CourseSmart, the industry e-book consortium, are already available to students on an iPhone operating system. That's because CourseSmart developed an iPhone application last summer with support from Apple. The goal was to have core educational content available on the iPhone operating system, which also makes it possible for e-books to run on new Apple devices using that system."

Continuing, McGraw said, "Consider then the Apple tablet computer, which will be introduced shortly. There is a lot of secrecy about the introduction, but many expect that the Apple device will use the iPhone operating system. If that's the case, we are confident that our CourseSmart e-books should run well right out of the box on any Apple Tablet. Stay tuned."

Similar to what he told CNBC, right? Thing is, McGraw spoke with quite a bit more certainty during that interview. He said:

"Yes, they'll make their announcement tomorrow on this one. We have worked with Apple for quite a while. And the tablet is going to be based on the iPhone operating system and so it will be transferable."

Those remarks don't seem entirely speculative to me. Still, what was McGraw saying that we hadn't already heard before? Maybe he reads the rumor sites too.