Once upon a time, Apple was the school computer. In 1978, Steve Jobs sold Apple IIs to the Minnesota Education Computing Consortium. The love-affair between the classroom and Apple had begun. Over the years, the relationship waxed and waned. Then, with the iPad in 2010, Apple romanced schools once more. Educators and iPads, however, didn't turn out to be a match made in heaven.
In Apple's place, Google with its Chromebooks have stepped in. Chromebooks are cheaper, easier to manage, and easy to share between students. The low upfront price is a big factor, but there's far more.
For example, Google offers programs just for schools, Google Apps for Education Suite; class-specific ChromeOS and Android apps, and Google Play for Education. Chromebooks that come with Google Play for Education range at prices from $199 to $227.
Nicer still, Chromebooks require no anti-virus programs and can automatically update with the latest patches without any fuss or muss. Google claims that schools using Chromebooks take 69 percent less effort to deploy and 91 percent less time to manage Chromebooks over Windows laptops and Apple iPads. Since school budgets are never flush with cash this all makes Chromebooks very attractive.
By the third quarter of 2014, IDC figures stated that while Apple had shipped 702,000 iPads to US schools Google had beat them with 715,500 Chromebook sales. "Chromebooks are really gaining traction [in the education market] said, IDC Senior Research Analyst, Rajani Singh.
So while most of the attention this week was on Google's launch of the Nexus 5X and 6p phones, its Pixel C Android tablet, and new Chromecasts, people largely ignored that Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that "by the end of this year, there will be more Chromebooks than every other device combined" in schools. Pichai also added that every day, an average of 30,000 Chromebooks are activated and most of those sales are to new customers.
Many of those new Chromebooks are going to students. A quick search on "Chromebooks" and Schools in Google News revealed dozens of stories of school systems moving to Chromebooks. Some school districts are doing it on their own funds, while others use parent fund-raising to bring Chromebooks to their kids.
Chromebook in school news isn't as exciting as new gadgets. We love our new electronics in America. In the long run, though, our children growing up with Linux-based, Internet connected hybrid desktop/cloud computers will be far more important.