Chromebooks, the Web-based laptops that use Google’s Chrome operating system, are now the best-selling devices in the U.S., according to new research released by the International Data Corporation.
Google touted the news on its official blog this week. Education Week, meanwhile, just published a pair of stories that examine the shifting market for devices in K-12 schools, and Chromebooks’ place in it.
My colleague Benjamin Herold looks at Chromebooks’ largest deployment to date, in the Montgomery County (Md.) school system, outside of Washington, D.C. The story compares Montgomery County’s experience with that of the nearby Baltimore County schools, where the district chose the HP Revolve—a convertible device that can be used as a notebook or tablet, and uses a Windows operating system— over Chromebooks.
I wrote a companion piece with that story that breaks down the numbers showing a growing market for Chromebooks, which has come as Apple’s iPads and devices loaded with Microsoft’s Windows operating system have shown a decline in the K-12 market.
iPads have been the top-selling tablets in K-12 public schools, and they continue to occupy a strong position in the market. During the third quarter of 2014, which includes the back-to-school season of July through September, Apple shipped 702,000 iPads, compared to the 713,000 Chromebooks that other manufacturers shipped for K-12 education in the U.S., according to Rajani Singh, a senior research analyst at IDC. Singh tracks trends in personal computers and the programs they use.
One factor that comes into play for schools is Chromebooks’ pricing, which is usually under $300. By comparison, iPads’ prices in the consumer market vary from about $250 to $830 per unit, depending on the features included. School prices for iPads generally vary by model and the features they offer, as well as by discounts available within the education market, according to Apple.
Gigaom, a website that blogs about emerging technologies, points out that computer hardware suppliers like HP and Acer are now offering laptops with the Windows 8.1 operating system and Bing search engine, starting at $199, which makes them competitively priced with Chromebooks.
“Future education purchases could come down to software preferences and maintenance,” Gigaom reports.