The education market has long been Apple's to dominate, from the early days of its first computers to today's iPads. Challengers have tried to encroach over the years, but the company may have met its match in Google's Chromebook platform.
According to a report from market research firm IDC and cited in the Financial Times (paywall site), more Chromebooks were shipped to schools in the third quarter than Apple iPads. While the difference in sales was pretty slim (715,000 Chromebooks to 702,000 iPads), it was still a breakthrough performance considering how trendy it's been for school districts to hand out Apple's tablets to students as part of a technological "revolution" in education.
But it's not too hard to figure out why this happened. IDC speculates that the low cost of the Chromebook laptops — often $200 — is half the price of a new full-sized iPad. It also obviously comes with a built-in keyboard, which can make it more productive out of the box for students to use for typing documents, though IDC points out that the iPad's touchscreen has advantages of its own (especially for younger students).
While momentum for Chromebooks in schools is substantial, this is still only a single quarter where they outsold iPads, so Apple is a far cry from flunking this latest test to its educational hegemony. Chromebook makers also need to show similar success outside of the classroom to meet analysts' lofty sales projections. But one thing's for sure: This new (tech) kid in school is looking pretty cool right about now.