IDC: Chromebooks Outselling iPads In Education Market

According to a new IDC report, Google has managed to overtake Apple's iPads in the classroom as the device category of choice for education. Google and its partners shipped 715,000 Chromebooks, while Apple shipped 702,000 iPads to schools. Chromebooks also accounted for a quarter of the educational market in the third quarter of this year.

IDC said that schools tend to prefer Chromebooks over iPads for two main reasons: lower costs -- which is usually half that of the iPads -- and the fact that they have keyboards. Some schools get their iPads with keyboards as well, but that only adds to the already-higher total cost for the tablets.

The schools' IT departments also like Chromebooks more because they are simpler to manage than iPads.

"Chromebooks are really gaining traction," said Rajani Singh, analyst with IDC. "The growth of Chromebook is a major concern for Apple's iPad."

Ms. Singh also said that as the average student age grows, the need for a keyboard increases as well, so it's not just teachers and IT managers who prefer Chromebooks, but most students, too.

Apple still owns a larger share of the educational market right now when combining its iPads and Macs. The company also has a big head start with 13 million iPads and 75,000 educational apps already sold to the education market. However, the difference between iPads and Chromebook userbases in schools seems to be shrinking because of the fast growth of Chromebooks.

Google also launched its Google Play for Education last year, which is a customized version of the Play Store that makes it easier for teachers, students and IT managers to find apps and manage Chromebooks.

Windows still seems to own the biggest share of the educational market, although long-time Windows PC makers such as HP, Dell, Samsung and Acer are heavily promoting their Chromebooks to schools right now, which could end up stealing more market share from both iPads and Windows devices down the road.

When Google built Chrome OS, the company didn't know where exactly it would take them, and right now Chromebooks are still a minor portion of the PC or computing devices market. However, in certain markets, such as education, Chromebooks seem to have found their niche.

The education market is also an important one over the long term because many children will grow up using Chromebooks. Even if Chromebooks don't become successful overnight in the mainstream market, they could still see a steady and healthy growth over the next decade.

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Lucian Armasu
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers software news and the issues surrounding privacy and security.
  • InvalidError
    It takes a real genius to figure out how a keyboard can be a significant asset in the education sector. The generally lower prices do not hurt either.

    For any remotely significant amount of typing, I vastly prefer a physical keyboard over an on-screen one: much fewer typos, it does not eat 30-50% of my screen and it allows separate angles for the hands/keyboard and screen/eyes. Much more comfortable in general.
  • LordConrad
    As a computer tech, I bought a Chromebook to get familiar with them and see what all the fuss was about (I bought a 13 inch model). Because it boots so quickly and has a real keyboard, I'm constantly using it around the house and have mostly retired my iPad.

    The Chromebook obviously can't compete with my Windows PC or Laptop for the big stuff, like gaming or video transcoding, but for the more simple everyday tasks this Chromebook is awesome.
  • stevejnb
    Cheap and crippled to bare functionality is a perfect school device, and the keyboard alone makes it a superior option for schools. Why pay more just so the kids can mess around and be unproductive? For school purposes, I actually prefer these to Windows devices. Even Surface RT products would need a $200'ish price point to compete, and they're sitting at over 2x that with a keyboard.
  • runswindows95
    I agree 100%, Invalid error. I'm leaning more towards a Chromebook over a tablet because of the keyboard. On a keyboard, I can do 60wpm easily. On a touch screen, I drop to some days 5wpm, 10wpm if I'm lucky.
  • damianrobertjones
    Other than price, but that has even now been matched, there's ZERO reason to own a Chromebook. Sure, ok, if you like them then that's perfectly fine but anyone proclaiming that they're fantastic compared to a windows machine is simply being a small bit delusional.

    "The schools' IT departments also like Chromebooks more because they are simpler to manage than iPads." - IT departments are being stupidly lazy.
  • runswindows95
    For a school, Chromebooks are a much better solution versus a Windows system. One, they're almost virus-free (School IT's spend a majority of their time doing virus removal on student's laptops). Second. already comes with all the software a student will need built-in. Finally, they have a real keyboard unlike a tablet.
  • actsai
    I do doubt education market can extrapolate to the general mass consumer market as the article suggest. Macs themselves were that way too only Steve Jobs and iProducts kept them afloat today.
  • Jacob McIntosh
    My school uses Chromebooks (Samsung models), and they are great, with the exception that the housing breaks really easily and the screws that hold them together randomly fall out. :(
  • rob8129
    To damianroberjones, "IT departments being stupid and lazy" do you even know what you are talking about? I work for a school system where we have had both the iPad and the Chromebook and the CB is way easier to manage with the Google Apps Admin Console. The iPads have been a nightmare to manage with the tools that are available, although they have gotten marginally better recently. The iPads seem to work great on a one-to-one basis such as when we have a special education and it's part of their IEP, but for multi users on one device, the CB is the way to go. (Don't even get me started on trying to buy apps in an easy manner from Apple, I could tell you stories) We have over 1200 CBs and all I have to do is make a change in the Admin Console, and it's pushed down to all the units, very handy. So, it's not about being lazy, it's about being efficient. Lord knows we in IT have more than enough to do on a daily basis.

    The big thing the article missed is that education is also linking these CBs to Google Apps for Edu. Once you combine the two, they are a great tool for education. A cheap and fast unit for web surfing, email/video collaboration, doc and presentation creation that is easy to manage is really the winning formula here. I actually have teachers begging me for more CBs, it has really taken off in our district. I have personally seen the shift from PC/MS Office/Email to CB/Google Docs/Gmail in our district. We even have Cisco video conference equipment and our staff is using Google Hangouts instead. Again inexpensive/free and works good will always beat out expensive and complicated, and that's why you are seeing the shift in the market.

    You want to run the latest games and video/photo editor out there on a PC? Fine, all the better as I do that myself, but for a quick device that does the basics well, the CB is a fine choice. You guys that scoff at these things and make your "CBs are stupid and PCs are way better because..." remarks are really starting to sound like the typical smug Mac guy. Be careful, do you really want to be lumped into that category of computer user?