In 2012, the Google Chromebook was a rare sight in a classroom. In actual fact, under one percent of devices seen in schools was a Google Chromebook. Skip forward to late 2015 and this figure has climbed to over fifty percent. The Chromebook has been selling in huge numbers to the education system. The Chromebook has significantly outsold the Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac platform, and the sales success has surprised even Google. Rajen Sheth, Director of Product Management for the Android and Chrome platforms in business and education, said this on the matter: “It’s been amazing to us to see that growth happen just in that short amount of time.If you look at the overall market for devices in education, it’s actually expanded a lot and Chromebooks have actually taken a lot of the expansion.” This rapid expansion has been at the expense of the Microsoft and Apple competitors: Apple’s market share has dropped from fifty two percent to twenty four, and Microsoft’s share has reduced from forty three to twenty four percent.
There is a very clear reason why the Chromebook has been a popular choice for classroom use: the platform is extremely cost effective. Chromebooks come with a keyboard and are priced from the $200 point, for example the CTL J2 Chromebook is $199 or $249.99 for the Toshiba Chromebook 2, plus a $30 management fee. Industry analysts expect school districts to buy more than eleven million devices from February 2016 and a few dollars here and there makes a big difference. Microsoft is working to release Windows laptops at the $300 point, but the $50 or $100 price difference makes a significant difference over those eleven million devices. Google’s Apps for Education also brings with it powerful collaboration software features; letting administrators share content to individuals, classes or even schools quickly and very easily. Google’s software allows teachers to build individualized learning plans.
Going forward, we can expect some differences. One example is how hybrid, or 2-in-1 devices, are set to increase in popularity. Hybrid devices combine a tablet piece with a keyboard, but have traditionally been very expensive. We are seeing average prices drop from $500 to closer to $300 and according to Futuresource, hybrid devices may capture eleven percent of the education market in 2016. Microsoft has typically led in the hybrid market but we are seeing manufacturers experiment with hybrid Chrome devices: this is a battle yet to be fought. Another advantage that has yet to be pressed home is how Google is working to provide support for Android applications on the Chrome platform, which would continue to open up the Chromebook market. We’ve also seen how Google is planning to blend features of Chrome OS with Android, but keep the platforms separate. One key way that Chrome could benefit from this is better touch control into the operating system.