Friday, August 22, 2014

Chromebooks in education

Google's Chromebook was an interesting spin on the "netbook" when it debuted in 2011. Chromebook is not a traditional laptop. The basic idea behind Chromebook is that you don't install software programs. That is, you won't have a copy of Microsoft Office running on the Chromebook. Instead, you run everything from the Cloud: Google Docs, Gmail, Google Calendar, … you do everything via the built-in Chrome web browser. The technology in the Chromebook is all about supporting web applications.

So it may not be surprising that Google Chromebooks are Outselling Apple iPads in the Educational Market, as suggested by a recent article in The Digital Reader. To get there, you need to unwind the sales figures reported by Apple and Google. Both will try to frame the numbers to put themselves in the best light. From the article:
Google reported a few days ago that a million Chromebooks were sold to schools last quarter (another 800,000 were sold to consumers). While that might not look nearly as impressive as Apple’s 13 million iPads, the numbers suggest that Google could be selling as many Chromebooks to schools as Apple is selling iPads.

We don’t have specifics on how many iPads Apple sold to schools last quarter, we do know that Apple last reported in February 2013 that they had sold 8 million iPads to schools around the globe.

A quick back of the envelope calculation tells us that schools bought 5 million iPads in the 17 months since February 2013, which means Apple averaged under a million iPads sold to schools each quarter—an average which is less than the million Chromebooks sold.
These numbers alone don't make a trend, but observation indicates that more institutions in higher ed are moving to Chromebooks. The low cost ($249 for the popular Samsung Chromebook) is easier on education budgets. And with the predominance of web or Cloud systems, users just need to get online with a web browser to do their work.

Small wonder the Chromebook is doing well in education. A recent article in ComputerWorld adds:
Gartner on Monday said that sales of Chromebooks will reach 5.2 million units worldwide this year, with more than 80% of the demand in the U.S. That's an 80% increase in sales from 2013.

But this demand was driven almost entirely by education last year, which accounted for nearly 85% of Chromebook sales, according to Gartner.

Google has created a centralized management system that allows for rapid changes, with no reimaging, and controls that allow a school system to restrict website and network access.
That makes the Chromebook a very attractive device in education. Never having to install software or patches makes the Chromebook really easy for overstretched faculty and campus IT teams to support. Just boot it up, and you're ready to go.

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