Netbook Use in Schools – K-12 – Google is taking a lead

Apple has had a firm hold in the academic market for a long time – when Apple came out with the iPad line, things took off even more.  Educators were loving the portability of the devices and app makers were building all kinds of great educational apps.

Apple vs Google – Academic Market “Wars”

apple vs chrome - netbooks use in schools
In 2012, Interactive Educational Systems Design reported “More than 80 percent of district technology officials said districts use or plan to use iPads over the next year or two, according to the results released by Interactive Educational Systems Design, Inc.”. – source edweek.org

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They also noted, in the same article that “Google Chromebooks came in a distant second, with 31 percent of district officials identifying that tool as the mobile technology they have in place or are planning to adopt. Twenty-seven percent said they are using or will use “mixed technology” supplied by students, as part of bring-your-own-device approaches. Android Tablets were next in line, the choice of 17 percent of respondents.” – source edweek.org

Netbook Use in Schools – Google Use Up

Fast forward to 2015 – the New York Times said “the Chromebook category is fast gaining traction in the United States” and even though Apple shipped over 4 million devices to schools, Chrome was making a run with a huge increase where “3.9 million Chromebooks were shipped in the education sector, an increase in unit sales of more than 310 percent compared with the previous year, IDC said. By contrast, iPad unit sales for education fell last year to 2.7 million devices, compared to 2.9 million in 2013, according to IDC data.”

It does appear apple is feeling some pressure from the netbook market – Bloomberg mentioned “Apple Acquires Education-Tech Startup LearnSprout” – that article mentioned “Apple Inc. said it acquired education-technology startup LearnSprout, which creates software for schools and teachers to track students’ performance.”

And USA Today mentioned “Apple is no longer the undisputed head of the K-12 class. – For the first time, Chromebook sales surpassed 51% in the K-12 market nationwide in the third quarter…The surge reflects a fundamental shift in how American schools are buying tech in bulk and assessing students online, placing an emphasis on low-cost, easy-to-manage machines.”

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In 2015, edweek.org said by the time 2016 hits “mobile devices will be available for 1-to-1 computing for half of the U.S. K-12 student and teacher population”.  (See chart footer to note data represents Notebooks, Netbooks, Chromebooks and Tablets.)

Mobile devices are sometimes a little confusing – these are considered any notebook, netbook, chromebook, tablet or phone.  This gets a little grey – because some of the numbers reflect chrome and apple’s share of markets.  These informational sources revolve around this concept.

Education World posted in January 2016 “Google’s Chromebook Tops Apple in the Education Market” and said “For schools with tight budgets the Chromebooks have been viable options when it comes to bringing blended learning to areas that without less expensive options, may not have had the ability to do so. For schools who want to cut cost and expand their network Chromebooks also prove to be a pretty easy option again due to how low the prices are.”

Also from education world’s post – “It’s a tidal wave: Chrome is the clear U.S. market leader now,” says Mike Fisher, associate director of education technology at Futuresource, according to the report.

Why is Google Pulling Ahead?

And why does Google seem to be “winning”?  One big reason is the package.  Apple has a fantastic product in the iPad – and the apps which live on the Apple App Store are very good, most better than what you can get on the Chromebook.

But its the “other stuff” which makes it better.  As Apple’s iPad is better suited for elementary education – Google’s infrastructure makes the middle and high school needs a better match.

The San Jose Mercury News mentions in a January of 2016 “Students have their own Google accounts. They work on math problems on chromebooks, file their homework in Google Drive and keep up with their classes through Google Groups.”

This is a great step – and may be why netbooks have taken a firm hold in these types of markets.