Chromebooks overtake iPads in US schools

2 Dec 2014

Google has finally beaten Apple in the battle for school supremacy, with the internet search giant’s Chromebook laptops overtaking the consumer tech titan’s iPad tablet computers in US schools. Microsoft hardware, however, still dominates.

The latest figures from IDC show Chromebooks overtaking iPads in US schools for the first time ever.

Rather than single sales, Chromebook has capitalised on bulk purchases from education authorities, shipping 715,500 of the low-cost laptops into US schools in Q3 of 2015 – marginally ahead of iPads.

According to a report in the Financial Times, the scale in business opportunities behind supplying US schools with tech hardware has always been Microsoft’s baby, but this news shows how both Chromebooks and iPads are homing in on Windows’ lead.

“Chromebooks are really gaining traction,” said Rajani Singh, analyst with IDC. “The growth of Chromebook is a major concern for Apple’s iPad.” Samsung, HP, Dell and Acer make Chromebooks and have been active promoting the device to school districts, she added. 

Price disparity between Chromebooks and iPads is playing a significant part, as education authorities are always looking for the cheaper option when possible. That puts Google’s Chromebook in an even more direct battle with Windows’ HP options in this incredibly lucrative market.

Google’s share is around 25pc of the whole US education market, a remarkable achievement for a range of products launched just two years ago. It’s not all bad for Apple, which dominates the larger education system in the US, when OS X devices are brought into account. But the lack of keyboard functionality of iPads appears to be a surprising stumbling block in the US.

As reported by Apple Insider, in June, the Los Angeles United School District, which previously sunk hundreds of millions of dollars into an iPad-powered curriculum, announced a shift away from Apple and towards devices running Microsoft Windows or Google’s Chrome OS.

LAUSD teachers also cited the iPad’s keyboard-less form factor as a hinderance to learning, as well as issues regarding content control and general device provisioning.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic