Will Digital ELL Products Eat Print?

Will Digital ELL Products Eat Print?

A lot of people believe that digitization is going to destroy print. But is that really true, at least in the context of the ESL industry?

Recently, I came upon a report by Ambient Insight (now Metaari), which forecasted the outlook of Digital ELL products from 2015-2020. In this post, I hope to highlight some of the most useful information from the free version of the report, and in doing so talk about the outlook of Digital ELL products around the world.

Note: Ambient Insight (now Metaari) will be referred to as Metaari for simplicity. I will also mark the corresponding PDF page numbers of where I’m pulling the data and analysis from in parenthesis, if you’d like to go deeper into the material on your own. 

Breakdown of “Worldwide Language Learning Industry”

Digital ELL products (Digital English Language products) are digital applications and content developed to help students improve their English proficiency.

In 2015, Metaari calculated that the revenues for Digital ELL products had reached $2.8 billion globally. It also suggested that revenues in the same market would reach $3.8 billion by 2020, using a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 6.0% (9).

Importantly, the Digital ELL product industry is a subset of the larger “Worldwide Language Learning Industry”, which had revenues valued at $54.1 billion in 2015 by Metaari. That means that Digital ELL products only occupied 5.2% of the total industry revenue in the same year (16).

Interestingly, despite all of the hype surrounding technology and education, offline ELL products still made up more than 92.2% of total industry revenue.

Here is a breakdown of the different industry segments (global), with specific revenue valuations in 2015 (USD).

Industry Segments

  • Digital English Language Learning ($2.8 billion in revenue)
  • Offline English Language Learning: classroom and print combined ($31.3 billion in revenue)
  • Non-English Digital Language Learning ($1.4 billion in revenue)
  • Offline Non-English Language Learning: classroom and print combined ($18.6 billion in revenue)

In 2015, the largest segment of the “Worldwide Language Learning Industry was “Offline English Language Learning” with revenues valued at $31.3 billion, taking up 35.8% of the industry in 2015.

The report further suggested that Digital ELL products had a high-growth potential, as they are more efficient and are in position to replace traditional offline products. However, as we can see, offline was still the cash cow in both English and Non-English language learning products.

Digital ELL Product Type Categories 

Metaari’s breakdown of the “Worldwide Language Learning Industry” is useful introducing us to the topic. However, I also found their their breakdown of the Digital ELL product segment telling (38).

Of course, it would also be interesting to see a breakdown of the other industry segment products and services, but for the purpose of this post we will focus on Digital ELL products.

The following text outlines the five different Digital ELL product types, Metaari’s projected growth rates from 2015-2020, and my own personal description of each product category. These notes are my own, as they weren’t described in detail in the report.

1. Self-paced eLearning (retail courseware)

5-year growth rate (2015-2020): 2.7%

Stand-alone, digital learning products that don’t require a teacher or other participants. Self-paced means that it can be completed according to student’s schedule.

2. Digital Reference-ware (etextbooks, ephrasebooks, audiobooks, digital videos, test prep, and digital translation dictionaries)

5-year growth rate (2015-2020): 1.6%

Content and reference material distributed in digital form: an online dictionary software, a digital textbook, etc.

3. Collaboration-based learning (live online classes and live online tutoring)

5-year growth rate (2015-2020): 4.4%

Providing classes remotely via a digital streaming service. Using the internet and software to connect students with teachers.

4. Mobile learning apps and edugames

5-year growth rate (2015-2020): 9.2%

Stand-alone apps and games exclusively for mobile devices (and tablets?).

5. Mobile learning value added services (VAS)

5-year growth rate (2015-2020): 8.9%

A product or service traditionally offered by telecom and device makers as an incentive for consumers to continue using their main product/service.

All Roads Lead to Mobile

A strong theme throughout the report was consumer movement to mobile. According to Metaari, products built for mobile are in the best position for growth in the coming years. This is directly linked to the widespread adoption of mobile devices across the globe.

Certainly, the top two product categories in terms of growth rate are mobile products (apps and VAS).

Metaari even goes so far as to state the following: “By 2020, Mobile education apps and Mobile Learning VAS products combined will account for 63% of all global digital English language learning revenues.”

Key Takeaways

Here are my three key takeaways from the report.

  • Offline products and services still made over 90% of “Worldwide Language Learning Industry” revenues in 2015.
  • Digitization and mobile was/are forecasted to eat into offline significantly.
  • Mobile product categories (apps, edugames, and VAS) have the highest growth potential.

If you found these numbers and analysis interesting, I recommend taking the time to read the free version of the report (link below).

For the full report on Digital ELL products by Metarri, visit: http://www.ambientinsight.com/Resources/Documents/AmbientInsight_2015-2020_Worldwide_Digital_English_Market_Executive_Overview.pdf

Official Metaari website: http://www.metaari.com/

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