Corporation gives too much away for free, according to GP Bullhound managing partner Hugh Campbell
Campbell was reviewing the success of the firm's predictions for 2013, one of which was that the pace of education disruption would increase over the year. While the firm was content that the prediction had indeed come to pass, Campbell expressed disappointment at a lack of new ideas in the field.
"Innovation in this space seems very challenging," he told an audience at London's May Fair Hotel. "And the BBC are stifling a lot of innovation here, especially because the content they give away is free."
Nonetheless, Bullhound argues that 2013 was a strong year for educational technology, particularly MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses). With a potential customer base of 2 billion people, these courses, which usually involve pre-recorded lecture material and students marking each others work, have been supported by brands such as Google, LinkedIn, and Bank of America.
Bullhound strikes a note of caution amid the praise, however, pointing out that course completion rates average at less than 10%.
As well as GP Bullhound's research into the field, Campbell cited his experience on the board of PasTest Limited, an e-learning business founded by his family in 1970 which sells educational material aimed for medical students.
The BBC's biggest digital education service is Bitesize, which provides revision aids aimed at secondary students aged between 11 and 16.
A spokesperson from the corporation says that "The BBC has a long history in education and learning going back to the first schools radio broadcast. We continue to create educational content, now across TV, radio and online. We are always mindful of the market impact of what we do, and share our plans for online with other educational providers."
But Bitesize isn't the only BBC service which has been accused of suffocating commercial rivals. Geraldine Allinson, chief executive of Kentish local newspaper publishers KM group, last year accused to corporation of "consistently treating [local newspapers] as a competitor."
"They consistently promote Facebook and Twitter," she told an event in May 2013, "but when it comes to one of our local papers they say 'a local councillor spoke to a local paper'. Why can't they even say our name?"
Describing GP Bullhound's accuracy in its 2013 preview as "scoring around six out of 10", Campbell presented the firm's look ahead to 2014.
Many of the predictions were based around improved handling of data. That includes the claim that 2014 will see "indoor mobile location determination" break through, thanks to technology such as Apple's iBeacon, and the prediction that the battle over mapping technologies, long dormant in the face of Google's domination, will heat up again.
But even the most futuristic-sounding claims had a strong element of data processing. If 2013 was the year of voice input, with the maturation of Google's "OK Google" service and Apple's Siri, then Bullhound sees 2014 as the year of eye tracking, a technology which lets users control their devices using nothing more than their gaze.
The technology is already on the market thanks to software from Samsung and Israel's Umoove, both of which use the front-facing camera on a mobile phone to control apps. But as it improves throughout the year, it could move from gimmick to maturity.
Not every prediction was positive, however. Bullhound singled out curved smartphones as the tech flop of 2014, saying that "curved mobile phones seem to make little sense to … we think it's a fad that may well be gone by the time we write this report next year."
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image: © BBC Bitesize