Why Apple devices are losing share to Chromebooks in U.S. public schools

“Chromebooks, the devices that run on Google’s Chrome operating system and use the Internet for cloud-based storage, have started to become popular in the US schools,” Puneet Sikka reports for Market Realist. “According to a report from CNBC citing Futuresource Consulting, Chromebooks now command more than half of all the devices sold to US schools as of 3Q15 compared to just 1% in 2012.”

“Apple’s share has declined from 52% to 24% and Microsoft’s declined from 43% to 24% in this market during the last three years,” Sikka reports. “Chromebook’s rapid rise in the US has come on the back of the cheaper devices that it sells in the market. Google is employing a strategy to win over students by making the Chromebook their preferred device. Slowly, Google expects that these students will start using these devices at home, at college, and then at work.”

MacDailyNews Take: If these students hope to work for Apple or IBM, for just two major examples, experience with Google’s cheap testing machines will be worthless.

“This becomes a difficult situation for Apple,” Sikka reports. “However, Apple has taken some steps of late to resurrect its position in the education market. Apple and IBM are developing an app to provide teachers with real-time data analytics of students.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Why are Apple devices losing share to Chromebooks in U.S. public schools? Because U.S. public schools are cheap, underfunded, and/or extremely shortsighted. There’s nothing at all new about that, unfortunately.

Check out the best schools: Apple Macs and iPads dominate.

Apple CEO Cook on Google Chromebooks in U.S. schools: We’re not interested in making ‘test machines’ – December 11, 2015
EFF files complaint asking for federal investigation; says Google broke privacy pledge, tracked students – December 1, 2015
IBM: Every Mac we buy is making and saving us money – October 28, 2015
Tim Cook gets privacy and encryption: We shouldn’t surrender them to Google – June 4, 2015
Apple CEO Tim Cook champions privacy, blasts ‘so-called free services’ – June 3, 2015
How Google aims to delve deeper into users’ lives – May 29, 2015
Apple CEO Cook: Unlike some other companies, Apple won’t invade your right to privacy – March 2, 2015
Edward Snowden’s privacy tips: ‘Get rid of Dropbox,” avoid Facebook and Google – October 13, 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook ups privacy to new level, takes direct swipe at Google – September 18, 2014


            1. You clearly have not seen Chromebooks in action and should probably resist the urge to pipe in. I encourage all my fellow Apple fans to avoid the “head in the sand” attitude, as that will NOT help Apple’s future. If you read through this thread, I have not seen a single post by people who have recent experience in the educational technology arena disputing the assertion that Apple is losing their early iPad popularity in schools to Chromebooks and the Chrome ecosystem. “Google Apps for Education” and ChromeOS products are becoming dominant, and Apple COULD do something about it but has chosen not to.

          1. Ensuring your ample supply of Santa coal for the winter Freddie boy? Inferiority complexes make people do and say horrible things as you are the living embodiment.

            Oh and btw everyone intelligent (that excludes you) know that analysts attempt to downgrade Apple’s stock yearly on specious warnings. Live and learn a little instead of showing off your blatant biased troll stupidity that only shows bombastic fools like you, who have a little bit of knowledge, are dangerous. Merry Christmas Doofus.

  1. Managing Chromebooks when you already have a Google EDU domain for your School/District is a dream come true… the mess of Apple MDM is a pain.. almost reaching M$ Active Directory levels of nonsense.

    1. We checked into this and was too expensive to do for us. Not if because we are for-profit or what. We really have no need to control anything here all we do is hand the chromebooks out and make them install VMware so they can remote in to a windows computer VM. We use Google email for students so they already have accounts and they simply turn the chromebooks on and login and get the app and done. I agree with Apple making things difficult with MDM stuff though. But not a fan of Chromebooks either, but in our case to save money you can’t beat the setup and now students can use our Windows image from anywhere on a $200 dollar device that more natural to use.

      1. You intimate that you are an educator, yet your use of english, your writing ability, and punctuation are appalling. The choice of cheap technology isn’t your school’s biggest problem. I’m sorry if I seem mean, it’s just that I am very concerned about the precipitous downward slide of American education. It’s truly frightening.

        1. Presumptuous, he doesn’t say he’s an educator simply works in a learning context (I would guess at IT admin) – your comment is small-minded and nasty. Why do so many on here come across as mean-spirited.

          1. You are right, I did presume, that’s why I used the word “intimate”. I also acknowledged that my comments could be taken as “mean”. But education is vitally important to our country’s survival and we have way too much tolerance for mediocrity, and worse. If we spend less time worrying about offending people and more time demanding excellence from those who are being paid by us to serve us, our children might just have a fighting chance.

      2. If you are using Gmail for official student correspondence how are you meeting federal data retention requirements for schools as you have no control over the servers. Also using google services opens security and privacy concerns, all your student activities are now laden with google tracking hooks.

          1. I did and what a mess, I would not trust any of my data there, it’s less backed up and more held hostage. You start using google services and later decide to change you have to keep paying google or loose your data. You can’t delete accounts without loosing data. If you don’t have full control of your data you really have no control only the illusion of control. You can hire and put your data in the hands of a well trained IT staff or you can trust your data to an Advertising company the choice is yours.

            1. Sorry, you have no idea what Google Apps for Education is, apparently. It’s the full Google Apps suite plus a framework called Google Classroom all provided FREE to schools with unlimited storage. They can set up as many accounts as they need, never need to lose data.

            2. I do no what it is I took the time to read Googles terms of service on it. If you delete a user account all data associated with that account is deleted as well, so yes you never have to loose data if you never want to delete accounts and all of your data is still not on a server you control it is on a Google server. Like I said if you want to trust your data and the privacy of your students to an advertising company go right ahead.

            3. Google has a service available to all their accounts as far as I know called “Google Takeout” which allows you to download the data in your account for the various Google Services in a format usable in other companies’ services as well as from Google Drive Storage. I’m sure if you don’t back up the info in any other cloud service before you delete the account you’d also lose all data. Google seems to go one step farther than most other vertically integrated cloud service providers.

        1. As far as servers, bandwidth, or accounts, educational institutions pay nothing for setup or operation. There are some costs for optional services, such as the EDU-Vault, but they are deeply discounted prices. Google also charges a one-time fee of $30/device for a management license if you want to manage your Chromebooks using the Google Admin console (this costs $150/device one-time or $50/year in the enterprise Google Apps world). While not as flashy an MDM as some others, it covers the basics and allows the devices to be managed using the same Organizational Unit structure you manage the Google accounts with, so it’s very simple to lock them down for students but allow teachers to have more control.

  2. I disagree with one aspect of the MDN take – that experience with google chromebooks will be worthless.

    Primary schools are where you learn the basics and you can learn the basics on a chromebook. How to type, do basic emails and documents. That’s nothing fancy or deep to learn. Its not even a highly employable skill in this day and age – dropouts can do it.

    The skills that companies like Apple and IBM are looking for is going to require a deeper commitment to learning computers and it does not matter what platform you are on if the desire and drive is there.

    A kid who masters Linux on a hand me down beige box can go on to great things just as a kid who grows up with a top of the line mac can.

    That’s one of the things I have long loved about the industry. The barrier to entry is only as expensive as you want it to be.

    1. The purpose of computers in schools is NOT to breed software developer or system admins. It is to teach children what they need to learn in the most effective way; the stuff that was originally taught via blackboard and chalk (and pencil and ruled notebook). Computers in schools are there in order to improve the learning process and maximise the knowledge retention. A corollary to that is the learning how to actually use computers.

      My children’s school has recently adopted a one-to-one initiative, distributing laptops to every child, from 5th grade through the 4th year of high school. The expert panel that evaluated all options (all-Mac, all-Windows, all-Chromebook, hybrids of various combinations) concluded, after a year of study, that the best possible platform for the job was an all-Mac solution. They evaluated numerious factors (TCO, management, educational software, functionality for reachers for managing students, their work, their progress, notification for parents, etc). In literally all of them, Apple’s educational solutions apparently offered better results than MS or Google. The panel had some 11 experts and majority were big Windows fans, with the rest Mac-heads and a couple Chrome fans. Their final decision was unanimous, despite all those Windows fans.

      My children now have MacBook Airs, provided to them by the school.

    2. In our school systems money is the ultimate choice. Apple gad an opportunity years ago to lease their machines to the school districts making them affordable and popular among the masses. They chose not to do so. Microsoft has too many updates and makes the learning experience in the classroom a total joke. Chromebooks are garbage computers but for simple web based programs and Email it is perfect. For the price if 30 iMacs, I could lease 90 Windows desktops. For the same price of 30 imacs, I can buy 210 Chromebooks. When you do the math in Chicago or any other budget strapped district, Chromebooks are the logical choice. Hell Windows desktops even offer a better deal! No licensing fees for office either. This is why Chromebooks are an overwhelming choice for school districts. Its not about quality in these districts, its about quality.

  3. I used to support K12 for Apple as an System Engineer. These decisions are controlled by the CIO who only cares about spending taxpayer money and being able to defend it if challenged. Very political !!!

    Another reason is that Chromebooks can be managed pretty easily. iPads only recently have gotten pretty good with MDM, DEP, etc.

    It’s also nearly impossible to “share” an iPad. Whereas, with Chromebooks, users “login” with their credentials keeping their work private. When you share an iPad, the next user sees all the previous user’s content.

    Lastly, iPads were rushed to K12 market prematurely. And Apple was very slow to provide any management tools. Configurator was an abomination and only created confusion and resentment that Apple had let them down. MDM’s are better but they are a little late to the market. Just ask LA Unified Schools how happy they were with iPad management. The kids very quickly discovered they could remove management and bypass content filters resulting in front-page headlines.

    Plus Google Docs and other google web services are a defacto standard in K12. Again, iCloud was late to market on this.

    1. I manage one of the largest K-12 networks in Georgia (and I used to work in Apple Ed Sales many, many years ago). Our district has a mixture of devices – primarily Windows-based, with a smattering of Macs and Chromebooks. Of the three, the Macs are the least-manageable without needing to go the route (and extra expense) of 3rd-party apps.

      Though I was poised to hate them (I’m a Mac user – both at home and at work), I must admit that the Chromebooks do their job very, VERY well. They’re inexpensive – bordering on ‘disposable’ at their price point – easy to manage, integrate seamlessly with our Google Apps for Education domain, have access to excellent applications within that domain, and can run virtualized apps via our VDI buildout.

      I really wanted the Macs to be a device-of-choice for our district…but they’re not. They’re simply too expensive at our scale (more than 45K students, and adding nearly 2K new students annually). We do use Macs in our video production facilities, and many administrative users choose a MacBook Air as their primary computer…but when it comes to getting a device in the hands of the students, it’s hard to beat a Chromebook.

      1. I agree completely– I am a longtime Apple fan, only bought Macs since 1988, I managed an iPad rollout at a large non-public school (1,500 iPads) a few years back, and I currently manage a Mac fleet at medium-size company. I really wanted to dislike Chromebooks, but they have gotten much better. My kid’s non-public school was trying to get iPads for its middle school this year, but they could not afford it for at least another year, maybe two. They ended up getting Acer Chromebooks with cases and management license for $200 each this year, and they are excellent devices. The students already know how to use Google Apps… the teachers don’t have to be techs, if a student has a problem, they can exchange their Chromebook in the office and be logged in another in 2 minutes, the entire environment transfers quickly and automatically. In my opinion, Apple has completely blown their huge lead in the education market, and I am sad. But now they’ve blown the consumer market advantage, too… I just bought an Amazon Fire for my kid for Christmas– $49. As nice as an iPad mini? No, but in some ways nicer– up to 2 adult and 4 child accounts can be added with strong parental controls built-in. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, it’s a no-brainer for use with kids. Sorry, Apple, our love affair is over. I will still buy Macs for myself, but I cannot honestly advise others that Apple products are the best value in most circumstances anymore. Market share will follow mind share.

    1. In this whole wide world, cheap will win out every time and Apple stock will stay at around $100 a share due to that simple fact. Alphabet is making Apple look stupid by immediately walking into schools and taking away any chance Apple ever had at getting their tablets or computers into public schools. Apple will have to pursue private institutions to make any headway whatsoever.

        1. We’re talking laptops, not phones. The least expensive Mac laptop is $900 while Chromebooks can be had for $150 (that’s less than a bottom-of-the-line iPad). Naturally school accountants will push for Chromebooks. Apple hasn’t just lost on the education front, they’ve been given a wedgie, a swirly, and locked inside a locker.

          1. What is the Gross margin on Chromebooks? Google suckers the manufacturers in. Relies on adverts on the Chromebooks to juice up hits and sucker in students who have no money to spend in many cases. longevity of Chromebooks -probably not much.

            1. Irrelevant. Whether the supplier is making a profit or is operating at a loss, they’re taking business from Apple. Longevity is also irrelevant when six Chromebooks can be had for the cost of one 11″ MBA.

          2. Yikes, what an analogy!

            I suppose it all comes down to what the school wishes to teach. If they are able to do more than put tests in HTML up on their LAN, such as design real interactive courses via HTML5 and ECMAScript, etc., then there’s an inexpensive interface device for the kids. I easily see that point.

            1. 😜I thought it was a fun analogy!

              I’ve been an Apple user since the //c and I see Chromebooks as a great way of teaching computer basics but I know they’re extremely limited. Courses involving serious computer science will likely not be taught using Chromebooks but Windows or Macs. But when an accountant sees 6 students with Chromebooks vs 1 MBA, where do you think the money will go?

              Apple is far behind with MDM and has seemingly missed the boat in the education market. When people get older they will gravitate to the OS they know best. It used to be Windows but now that Google is developing a Chrome OS, who knows what the future will bring? Apple’s ignoring the education arena may be its great downfall.

              Look at the computer industry now. Most people use Windows because that’s what they’re comfortable with it because it’s what they use at work. The Mac converts come from the subgroup that tries to do more and is thwarted by the fact that there’s no IT guy to call. That’s good for the Mac but a lot of people are prevented due to cost. Add Chrome OS into the mix and it’s an uncertain future.

              Apple really needs to get off its high horse and either drop prices dramatically or come out with an easily affordable line of computers or license the OS. Apple must accept the fact that being a prima donna is no longer a viable business strategy or or suffer the consequences.

            2. “Apple must accept the fact that being a prima donna is no longer a viable business strategy …”

              If you care to glance at Apple’s financial results, you might be able to work out that being the most profitable business might in some way be connected to having a business strategy that is not only viable, but stunningly effective.

            3. I remember M$ having that invincible attitude about their core businesses — Windows and Office. The same will happen to Apple if they’re not hitting on all cylinders. First the Pro market and now education. Apple had always “owned” these markets, but not any more. There is apparently no competent leadership to move these business areas forward. Too much emphasis on the next big gadget!

    2. Losing market share isn’t cheap. Back in the day Apple made a conscience effort to bring Apple products to as many students as possible. Now Apple seems content only to sell to schools in higher income districts.

  4. The iPad is not a sufficient device for an organized educational experience. As other commenters have noted, the management software is under-baked. Furthermore, the teachers don’t have sufficient experience to teach from the available software options on a tablet format. Finally, partly because of teacher experience, or parent experience (if a kid is lucky enough to have parents who care and can help with schoolwork), the standard OS of a laptop or desktop is better-suited for learning, content creation, and file management with a keyboard and mouse. Tablets just don’t cut it, and Apple’s push to get tablets into the schools has backfired. They would be much better off with a cheap ‘first taste is free’ laptop or desktop educational solution, just like the old eMacs.

    1. Actually, you have hit upon it: sadly, most teachers don’t want to learn something new! Certainly not something “techie”; they tend to want to learn the areas they need to teach, but not how computers work. School accountants purchase the cheapest hardware and have an IT group make sure it works, but the IT group isn’t top notch (schools don’t pay very well) and the systems never work right. This generally leads to teachers not having functional systems, so the students can’t learn using those systems, and the administration frantically looking for “new and better” solutions to use teaching the students. A sad, ugly, vicious cycle wasting time and money, frustrating everyone, and inhibiting the learning of the students: welcome to public education in the USA.

  5. Email, browsing the web, editing and collaborating on documents are not worthless skills to learn, regardless of what platform they are done on. And those skills in school have absolutely nothing to do with stopping someone from getting hired by Apple or IBM. Weak take MDN.

    1. Not worthless skills to learn, but that’s ALL Chromebooks and the Google Apps platform offers. No meaningful content creation; no creative skills fostering; no variety in tech tools. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. We did this ‘experiment’ in the 90’s with Windows machines and MS Office. And considering IBM and Apple are pushing the envelope within the enterprise arena with mobile tech, etc, I’d say that MDN’s take is right on. They won’t need kids who can churn out a Google doc online.

  6. Any idiot who follows the MDN take is delusional.

    Apple products in the context of schools cost too much and deliver too little. Period.

    The management of these devices is a rat nest.

    iPads cant create multiple users. So, each student is chained to a device that under-delivers in the classroom.

    Chromebooks are cheap, effective tools that aid students just fine.

    They are manageable on so many different levels that price is almost secondary.

    MDN is once again fulol of swhit when it comes to the worth of a device.

    The operating system is the Internet and has been for a long time.

    Chromebooks have excellent security, cheap deployment and represent real value to school districts.

    This site moans about taxes being too high. Well that means that there is less money for higher end tools, the admins to run them, and elected officials who haven’t been cowed by local citizens scrambling under the incessant noise of neocons who think you can run a country on no revenue.

    Turns out, that means that a company like Apple is no longer able to live off the tax base that starved schools have been forced to face.

    Tell that to the guy with the elephant avatar.

    1. Wow. What a clueless take on the matter. And we wonder why kids in the USA are getting their butts kicked by the likes of kids in Europe and Asia.

      iPads and the Apple education system are used by the majority of institutions across Europe, mostly because they’re not beholden to an archaic standard curriculum. They actually use their teaching time usefully, to push REAL content creation, collaboration, and creativity process. ALL of which is a far superior experience on the iPad/Apple ecosystem over Chromebooks and Google. Frankly, what it comes down to is cost and management, as so many people here have posted. The IT departments are looking out for themselves instead of the interests of our students. But what’s worse is, our teachers have no choice because our kids only have to pass the exams.

      1. When you make a claim like “iPads and the Apple education system are used by the majority of institutions across Europe”, please have a recent link or two backing you up. Since Chromebooks practically ‘live’ on the web and can use remote logging you’re not really as limited as you first think. One of the largest advantages I see of Chromebooks is that you can share devices simply by using a different log in. A pretty important consideration when you may have to replace devices quickly so students don’t lose study time waiting for a new device to be set up for him/her.

            1. Listening to the last 5 podcasts..

              I tried searching with “Europe Apple iPad schools share” and still came up with Chromebooks overtaking iPads.. What terms did you use to find relevant links?

              Not sure what Apple’s quarterly results confirm if not put in context with the european education market share.

  7. I was a business teacher for 20 years at the equivalent of community college level (TAFE). Let me assure you price is THE determining factor. As both sides of politics cut public funding to education you look at making the available funding go as far as possible. That’s the reality whether you like it or not.

    If you want tax cuts rolled out regularly then it has to come from somewhere. So what are you going to cut; defence, policing, roads, public utilities, health or education? You can’t continuously cut your funding inputs without affecting your outputs. That’s just basic maths.

  8. Hi. I’m an educator in a K-12 publicity school. Let me give you the real dope. We love our Macs and iPads, but we are moving to Chromebooks across our district. Some of the reasons folks have posted are true, some less so. For us, the issue is threefold…

    1. Expense. We prefer iOS devices overall, but simply cannot buy a reasonably sized one with accident coverage (non-negotiable in a public school) for a cost similar to a Chromebooks. We would be willing to pay some type of premium for Apple, but we just can’t afford twice the price (in most cases).
    2. Management. Chromebooks are pretty dumb and fairly limited, but they have great tools for remote management fro both support and teaching. The iPad has been out for how long and Apple still has never bothered to wrap iPad control in Apple Remote Desktop?
    3. Device Type. Apple needs a smallish, inexpensive laptop-style device running iOS. Students need exposure to keyboarding and adding a physical keyboard to iOS devices is never a great experience and adds even more cost.

    In short, Apple just isn’t interested in the public school market, and that is *not* a knock on them! Why would they be? The margins are non-existent and the demands are constant for support and freebies when students wreck devices either intentionally or on purpose. Dell, Lenovo, et al, are so desperate that they are willing to scrape the couch cushions looking for nickels. Apple doesn’t need to and, as much as I would love an inexpensive Apple device for education, there just isn’t any impetus for them to engage in the market.

    1. I will second that…I’m a tech a large district and deploy devices ordered…have seen a huge surge in chrome because of price, management ease, and device type meets needs of students. Given iPads have their place, should stay in science classrooms and maybe have a lab per school.

  9. When our education system gets the type of funding and priority that the military does, then we will know we are on the right track.

    I live in a state with a GOP governor and the first thing he did was to cut back on education spending, with the help of the GOP state Senate and House. Republicans always look to cut education first when they want to save money. Of course they don’t value much in the way of education, because they don’t believe in evolutionary biology or climate change, or even basic arithmetic with their zeal for tax cuts for the very rich.

    When you have major political figures from one of the two major political parties still believing the earth to be about 6000 years old, then you know you have a problem.

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