Apple loses more ground to Google’s Chromebook in U.S. education market

“For the first time, Chromebook sales surpassed 51% in the K-12 market nationwide in the third quarter, according to a report recently released by market researcher Futuresource Consulting,” Jon Swartz reports for USA Today. “The surge reflects a fundamental shift in how American schools are buying tech in bulk and assessing students online, placing an emphasis on low-cost, easy-to-manage machines.”

“‘It’s a tidal wave: Chrome is the clear U.S. market leader now,’ says Mike Fisher, associate director of education technology at Futuresource. He says districts are drawn to the Chromebook’s Web-based operating system, ease of use, IT manageability and $200 to $300 price range,” Swartz reports. “Chromebooks — laptops running Google’s Chrome OS as their operating systems — made significant strides, year-over-year. Chromebooks’ market share jumped to 51% from 40%. Apple products, mostly iPads but also laptops and Mac desktops, declined to 24% from 32%. Windows-based machines remained steady, at 23%.”

“Microsoft, through national contracts and Windows-based machines, remains on top for the K-12 market worldwide, with a 47% share. Chromebooks follows at 19% and Apple at 13%, says Futuresource,” Swartz reports. “Winning students at an early age is considered crucial for tech companies in the approximately $15 billion K-12 market in the U.S. Apple, through its dominance of the education market during the Steve Jobs years, helped establish its strong brand overall and shape the computing habits of millions of young Americans.”

‘The trend away from Apple products hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Cupertino, Calif. company now run by Tim Cook,” Swartz reports. “On Monday, it released education updates to its mobile operating system, version iOS 9.3 — namely, a simplified log-in and the ability to more easily share and manage iPads in schools securely — in hopes of wresting back market share. It also has shaved iPad prices.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Too little, too late for Apple?

This news is hardly surprising. After all, U.S. public education is hardly noted for its intelligence, innovation and creativity. Chromebooks are a perfect fit.

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

Apple delivers multi-user support for iPad – in schools only – January 11, 2016
Why Apple devices are losing share to Chromebooks in U.S. public schools – December 23, 2015
Apple CEO Cook on Google Chromebooks in U.S. schools: We’re not interested in making ‘test machines’ – December 11, 2015
Apple pivoting iPad education strategy to regain its footing in face of Google Chromebook surge – December 5, 2014


  1. Its all economics; people for one thing use whatever is inexpensive; froogle could not sell its hardware so it donated them to the education department – the educational departments were happy for the brain dead machines and hence Apple looks bad? The dumb cylon hardware will not last over two years of use and the educational department shall see if it has the budgets for new machines. Apple needs to donate more or make quality low end machines. Recycled iPads were last years wonder story; as parents and kids were both happy using the honour system to sign out iPads and take home. Haven’t seen articles like that regarding Froogles crap.


      Between schools chrom OS… And Windows dominance in destktop high performance gaming ….. These kids are growing, learning and becoming more familiar and comfortable with those platforms and Brands ….( i see this with my own eyes among kids of 12-17 today )
      And slowly but surely they are associating cool and high perforamce with other brands !!!!!! Regardless of Apple eco sys..and superiority of produce quality and design…….
      APPLE You are loosing your touch with the next generation of kids growing up into the the productive sector..
      Those who will choose what platform to use next.
      Very short sighted !

      Evey effort has to be made to make sure kids see apple as the familiar place to hang hout …and A place where they can get the best bang for their activities… GAMING, SCHOOL.

      If ignored … The whole image of Apple as the best technology out there will fade.. Including The Iphone.

      TIM AND TEAM… come on….. ,!!! This is very short sighted marketting strategy… Or an increadibly stupid oversight ! IMHO and kids i see around me!

  2. REALLY hate saying this…but Google’s services (online collaboration/classroom) is really pretty good. I realized this when a watched my daughter work on a presentation with a classmate. Pretty slick and is much better than what Apple has to offer. That said, the funny thing is that it is platform agnostic and doesn’t require a Chromebook…

    So..the services are great and allows flexibility in hardware..but some IT/Admins don’t see that and defeat the benefits of google services by locking into a specific “hardware” platform anyway…typical.

    1. Hate to admit, Froogles online Docs (really are good alternatives to powerpoint, word and excel) and accessible by any platform. Yes, if security is not a worry, if mediocrity is not an issue, if the platform and performance too is meaningless – sure enjoy you kiddies in using Froogle. After all, they love U-Bube videos though they should avoid the trash there – but I guess schools these days don’t care.

    2. Um….collaboration like that exists with Apple’s stuff and Microsoft’s stuff. Google has no great lead or domination there. I’ve used all three. They’re about the same.

      1. Yes, MS and Apple have collaboration functionality, but Google’s collaboration is a step or two ahead in that the ‘live’ aspect works really well. Otherwise, Google Apps provide a mediocre experience at best compared to MS and Apple offerings.

        1. Yes, live. That’s what I am referring too. They were working on the presentation at the same time and could see edits live. It was funny cause the guy kept putting black text on a blue background. My daughter kept changing the font to white. Was fun to watch. She won, obviously.

  3. Apple lost U.S. education on Tim Cook’s watch. When this comes back to bite Apple in the ass when these kids hit buying/procuring age, don’t forget whose fault it was.

    Hey, but at least he made it “acceptable” for mentally ill “transgenders” to “work” at Apple. Cook’s priorities need adjustment.

    1. Apple definitely has egg on its collective face over this, but I don’t think it’s an indicator at all of what’s gonna happen in the future. The three major reasons school systems choose Google are:
      1. Cost
      2. Management ease
      3. U.S. curriculum standards (i.e., the kids are taught to ‘study for the test’.

      Google apps does noting more than provide a really expensive word processor-that’s all my teens use Chromebooks for (along with notification of assignments). They could easily do the same with any other solution. Wilson School District in West Lawn, Pa made a mistake by going the Chromebook route. A neighboring school, Berks Catholic, just announced an iPad 1:1 initiative. I’ve spoken to both systems- iPad system is much more capable for a variety of reasons. With the upcoming iOS 9.3, most/all of the ‘advantages’ of the Chromebook product will be nullified.

      In the long run, I suspect that Google will have the same trouble expanding it’s services in the school systems as they have trying to enter the enterprise market- security and privacy are huge issues among the enterprise types, and Google ain’t got either. Also, Chromebooks are relatively useless for providing any kind of app ecosystem, and by extension any kind of creative or consumptive potential (as compared to the Apple App ecosystem with iOS) for similar reasons- once you provide access to apps on the Google App Store via Chrome, you open the door to all of the malware, trojans, low quality ‘free’ apps, etc that’s omnipresent in the android ecosystem.

    1. Wrong. Kids care about the app, not the brand name sticker on the device. Now that Android’s app store offers all the same apps from all the same developers that the iOS app store does, Apple’s going to have to do a better job keeping up with technical specs. As for education, multi-user is a no brainer that should have been part of iOS back in iOS7. Instead Apple blew its wad making iOS7 white and gray with hideous readability. That’s when the people who aren’t religiously wedded to Apple started looking around at alternatives in earnest.

      1. Android’s app store may offer similar apps to the Apple App store, but they’re by no means the same. The vast majority of apps on Googles site are freemium-type apps and/or malware, which rely on collecting personal data to make $$$. This is why nobody spends money on Android apps, as evidenced by Apple’s commanding lead in App Store revenue and developer payouts. Schools should want quality apps from quality developers to not only protect the kids, but also to make sure the developer will be in business for years to come (thereby minimizing the need to buy or download new apps on a regular business because developers keep dropping out).

        iOS 9.3 will finally add multi-user for school systems, and a slew of other enhancements. It’s late, but not too late.

        1. While I can agree with you on the app variety breakdown in the App stores vary, I think Mike’s point is that more often than not the same App that is of interest to the kids exist in both places. The vast majority of apps on Google Play being freemium makes no difference in that case.

          As for multi-user on iOS let’s all reserve comparison till it is actually in use.

  4. First, Google docs and services are quite good. Please save your fanboy love for another discussion or concretely and with FACTS tell me otherwise.

    Chromegbooks are a brilliant invention for low power computing. Not everyone, and certainly not schoolkids, needs to run Final Cut Pro or Mathmatica. Chromebooks give you an office suite and a web browser. That’s what you need as a student.

    Chromebooks offer multi-user support and ease of administration. Chromebooks can be redistributed without the need for admins to do a complete wipe and install dance.

    Chromebooks are cheap enough to distribute to a large number of students with no fear of abuse or wear.

    Apple fanboys live in a world where there are unlimieted resources and app and platform centric computation.

    A computer is a tool, no more, no less.

    1. Google has essentially bribed its way into the market. It isn’t that their products or services are preferred, they are imposed, and educators have zero say in the matter as those decisions are made by corporations. Welcome to privatized education, one of the most patently corrupt industries in America, and oddly one that few are paying attention to. Also, yes, the kids are the ones losing out, and it is very sad. Years they cannot get back are being stolen from them.

      1. That is your spin.. The spin in the other direction would be that Google has provided a cost effective solution (HW, administration, ecosystem) making computing technology accessible to all levels of the K-12 educational system. In an ideal world where education where cost is not a factor it is quite possible iOS devices would be preferred, however the current K-12 system does not have that luxury. Please provide a link to back your argument that corporations impose use of Chromebooks over other devices and educators have no say. My friends and associates that happen to be in the K-12 educational system (teachers to district supervisors) have done their own research and discussed the pro/con of each solution and decided on Chromebooks for having a better ROI for their current needs.

  5. I’m not sure that the particular tech kids use in primary and secondary school these influence them as adults. My kids primarily used PCs at school, but Macs at home. My son is in college, and most of the students use Macs. So guess what he uses? A Mac. I think what students would CHOSE to use (as opposed to what is forced on them by the public schools) are a better indication of their future computer purchases.

  6. There is nothing new about the concept of a thin client – businesses have been using them for decades with network applications like Citrix. If you want to trade options with optionsXpress it is all web-based and would run just as well on a Chromebook as in my Mac Pro.

    The critical issues in education are device management and malware. Chromebook takes all that pain away. It’s a bigger screen and much cheaper.

    Horses for courses: Chromebook wins because it meets user needs at the right price. Apple missed this and lost out.

    1. “The critical issues in education are device management and malware. Chromebook takes all that pain away. It’s a bigger screen and much cheaper.”

      I disagree. The critical issues in education are teaching our kids to learn and to be creative. You’re thought process is stuck in the 1990’s world of Microsoft, when the IT morons ran the show. Apparently, IT priorities still rule, at the expense of learning.

      Google lost the malware battle a long time ago vs. iOS. Chrome is ‘safe’ because it’s a very exclusive walled-garden (how ironic…). Google will have a rough time trying to convince schools to utilize any kind of app offering because of malware and privacy concerns.

        1. Chrome is nothing more than a closed, browser based system. IE and Safari could easily mimic Chrome. So as far as availability, IE, Safari, Firefox, etc are already available on multiple platforms. The Safari equivalent to Chrome would be an iCloud notebook with Pages, Keynote and Numbers exclusively, with some basic browser standards built in, and closed to everything else. (Of course Apple wouldn’t place our kids’ privacy at risk…). Chrome claims ease of management and security because it’s relatively restricted in functionality. Compare that to the robust, secure and app-supported platform that is iOS, and you see the difference in potential and power. Again, Google leads because it’s cheap, and our educational IT folks took the bait, hook line and sinker. I’m glad my kids are moving on to bigger and better things soon.

  7. only rich schools catering to private school snobs go all apple. and they will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes… the revolution started by the rest of the 99%…

    google and chrome is a perfect EDU eco system.

    1. Make sure to include a good replacement plan to manage device costs over time.

      Wonder how the ‘multi-user’ feature works since the iOS devices keep account info on the device itself.

      1. Apple support is second to none. If an iPad breaks, and they don’t already have extra in stock, a simple trip to the Apple Store or an overnight shipment will replace the iPad. Apple shins when it comes to support, and they take responsibility for the whole widget- hardware, software, system. Compare that to the Chrombook scenario- you would first have to determine who’s problem it is (Google, HP, Acer, Dell??), then decide where to get the new device (Google, Best Buy, HP, Dell??), etc. Also, iPad’s are proving to last- most schools still have their original iPads in working order. Turnover is very low, and functionality is not sacificed (the second generation iPad still runs iOS 9). So quality is there, functionality is there, and you can certainly do more with and iPad vs. a Chromebook. The total value goes to the iPad system. We saw how the TCO argument panned out from the Microsoft dominated 90’s- it’ll be interesting to see how it pans out now.

        The multi-user feature in the upcoming 9.3 update looks nice, and I suspect it’ll work very much like it functions in OS X. But I agree- if you have a 16 GB iPad, it’s gonna get dicey.

        1. I have no doubt AppleCare is second to none.. Now is it cost effective at the K-12 school level? I have a feeling Apple will need to prepare itself to take a financial hit from the stories I hear about device handling by students. 😛

  8. I’m a apple user (macs, iPads etc) and a aapl shareholder.

    so I’m not a troll but I have to argue that Apple has not kept the eye on the ball on many things , for example macs (and I’ve stated this for years).

    besides this school thing
    look at the Mac Pro. It’s two years old with no upgrades or drop in price, has 3 GB cards when 12 GB cards are available for PCs. Unlike the old days the current Mac Pros cards are not upgradable.

    (for schools not only did they take the longest time to have multi user for iPad but they scrapped the low cost mac options for schools, use to be they had stuff like eMacs etc)

    I can go on about how they’ve not seriously marketed macs for years in spite of Win 8 fiasco, have not given many users Macs that they want like box with upgradeable slots etc.

    Apple should chase innovation for sure but it needs to keep an eye on it’s flock as well otherwise it’ll wake up with massive problems like the educational market.

    1. Getting stuff onto and off an iPad (and increasingly Macs as well) is such a pain in the backside that they will deter many from the platform. Education and other users don’t want a pocket full of dongles and adapters.


    Between schools chrom OS… And Windows dominance in destktop high performance gaming ….. These kids are growing, learning and becoming more familiar and comfortable with those platforms and Brands ….( i see this with my own eyes among kids of 12-17 today )
    And slowly but surely they are associating cool and high perforamce with other brands !!!!!! Regardless of Apple eco sys..and superiority of produce quality and design…….
    APPLE You are loosing your touch with the next generation of kids growing up into the the productive sector..
    Those who will choose what platform to use next.
    Very short sighted !

    Evey effort has to be made to make sure kids see apple as the familiar place to hang hout …and A place where they can get the best bang for their activities… GAMING, SCHOOL.

    If ignored … The whole image of Apple as the best technology out there will fade.. Including The Iphone.

    TIM AND TEAM… come on….. ,!!! This is very short sighted marketting strategy… Or an increadibly stupid oversight ! IMHO and kids i see around me!

    1. I was in Silicon Valley for a week last week. While I don’t think Google is in the clear with their business model going forward, Apple is definitely losing the ‘mindshare’ among the tech types. Apple is still mentioned as a pioneer and a force to wit, but the likes of Google, FaceBook, and others are on the minds of everyone there. Google will still face privacy barriers, but people definitely like them, especially the youngsters.

      1. Yes JDOC
        Its so obviouse what the long term effect will be if course is not adjusted !

        Im not trying to come across as a Steve wirshioer .. Im not( though many many things he did were shear genius and some pure stupid )) . But look at what was happening then.. With the MAC Vs PC adds… With the uber cool young kid as a the frontman of apple in this commercials….. And the super dominance of apple in schools at that time …
        That generstion are those we see at conferences… Or starbucks …etc… With rooms and halls filled with macbooks and Apple logos as far as the eye can see…..

        Why would Phil change this corse is beyond me….. Sigh !

  10. I am a little shocked at what I am reading here. I am a school teacher in a great school in Arizona. I have tried to deploy google tech and it is quite cumbersome. I am currently using iTunes U and don’t have many problems as I found google classroom to be a little short of the glory. On my last technology survey, completed last week, few students reported that they owned and were familiar with Chrome OS but many had used Android, with the bulk of my students using iOS 9 on an Apple device. I own 2 Chromebooks (hp and Asus), 2 Macbooks, 1 Windows laptop (Asus), I haven’t found Google’s apps a suitable replacement for the industry standard Office suite. Many users including myself have gone to Keynote, Pages, and Numbers, but Chrome and Googles suite would be a stretch for educators I know, myself included. In my district the bottom line is upfront cost and then manageability. All 3 operating systems allow adequate manageability to keep away from porn (my districts number one concern) but Chromebooks are far cheaper. My districts have a Mac lab but currently deploy Windows computers throughout the school, they just offer better flexibility. Chrome seems very watered down for the students and of course major apps that students like outside of presentation and document creators are just not available. Students at my school use photoshop, minecraft, autocad. I wasn’t aware that Chrome OS handles those with any fluency. In addition may web based programs we deploy just don”t interface well with chrome browser. High School History Teacher.

    1. This is a terrific post. It uncovers the true reason school systems buy Google services- price and perceived ‘management ease’, at the expensed of true value and development of a creative learning environment. Well done, and thanks for your viewpoint!

      Apple has a different take on things- like Cook said, Apple won’t follow Google into the ‘testing machine’ system. And I think that’s a good thing. Hopefully, over time, the absent-minded, biased IT folks who are responsible for making the tech decisions in our nations schools will either realize that TCO, learning and creativity trump initial cost and ‘free’ services, or they’ll be fired and replaced with someone who does.

    2. Adobe has been working hard with Google and if not yet available, not just Photoshop but the entire Creative Cloud suite will be available for Chromebooks.:

      I don’t think there is any way currently to have minecraft on a chromebook short of also installing a linux sideboot.

      AutoCAD 360 is available for Chrome/Chromebooks.. Here’s a YouTube vid from Jan.2015:

      1. Yes, but even if that happens, it threatens Googles ‘free’ paradigm. How much will it cost to bring Adobes Creatuve Suite? Schools and Google will have to work harder and spend more money to transition from the ad-supported business model and malware infested app platform to produce what iOS and iPads already have, en mass. So by this respect, Googles bait (free and cheap) will ultimately lead to more expense. Give Google credit for duping the short sighted IT managers and locking them into their subpar product offering. And only the kids stand to lose.

        1. I wasn’t aware Adobe’s cloud suite was free for any of the platforms so doubt it will threaten Google’s ‘free’ paradigm as you state.. Since it is a cloud based platform it will most likely work with any modern browser as well as possibly being a backend for desktop versions’ processing and data storage. The point is that Photoshop will, if not already, be usable on a chromebook in response to the teacher above’s need for Photoshop. Adobe specifically worked with Google, so you can probably expect a good level of response on chromebooks.

          1. Exactly. Adobe’s Suite will cost extra. Google thrives on the ‘everything for free’ paradigm. The costs scale- not only will schools ostensibly pay for the Adobe product, but they’ll also pay for the extra cost necessary to align the Chrome system (i.e. develop for Chrome)- the costs will trickle down. iOS already has the capability to run Adobe’s Suite. But there’s also a plethora of alternative solutions available on the app store already, much cheaper and very powerful. So costs will add up. But schools will be locked in to Google’s system. TCO strikes again, just like in the 1990’s.

            1. Yes, Adobe Suite will cost extra but that is moot since it will cost something for any platform. Data files will still be whatever format they are now. They (Adobe) are not developing specifically for Chrome/Chromebook, they developed a Cloud based suite. Google work with Adobe only helps the entire browser community in data exchange efficiency between the browser and the Adobe backend. What do you consider lock-in? All data that you have on Google Services are downloadable in a compatible export format via Google Takeout, and Google Apps files can be saved in industry standard formats.

            2. The difference is, iOS already has a multitude of choices which perform similar functionality as that of adobes suite. Ostensibly, more competition means lower prices. Remember when products produced for Apple came with an “Apple tax’?

              Lock-in is Chrome. Read the above posts. The more Chrome ‘opens up’, the more private data is shared via Chrome sync (see the complaint by the EFF). If Google were to pivot in this direction, it would then be in direct violation of its student privacy pledge ( Additionally, the more Chrome expands its platform, the more insecure it gets. Chrome security, as it stands now, is begotten by virtue of its simplicity and lack of functionality- it’s a closed system. If it became more like Android, the security, fragmentation and support issues would plague Chrome just the same, because of Googles business model.

              All Apple iWork files can be saved in industry standard formats as well- it has always been the case. Not sure what your point is there.

            3. With each post I believe I responded to each of your points. In the prior case why the price of Adobe Cloud Suite is a moot point. Now you say there are multiple choices for iOS which leads me to think that you believe that the same is not true for Chrome/Chromebook via Chrome/Web based Apps.

              As for ‘lock-in’ I understand the term in our conversation to mean that you are unable to move to a different platform/OS due to your data being ‘trapped’ in a format proprietary to that platform or OS. I have informed you of Google Takeout which allows you to move said data showing there is no ‘lock-in’. I think you are using the term ‘lock-in’ to mean something it actually doesn’t and need to find the right word.

              You may be right that in the current of Android, should Chrome become more like Android all sorts of problems may plague Chrome as well. But until that happens we can’t be sure both would not be much more secure.

              Good for Apple iWork files also saving in industry standard formats. I had mentioned file formats since it is usually one item in the list for possible ‘lock-in’ points.

            4. The cost of Adobe Suite isn’t a moot point in reference to the application of Chromebooks and Chrome OS to the educational system. As many have said in this post, including me, one of the main reasons, if not the entire reason, school systems are going the Chromebook route is cost (cheap). If schools decide that Chrome’s limited offerings require purchase of more and more third party products, then cost rises. My point is, iOS is a mature platform already, with a robust app store. The costs of products available on the app store have gone through the market cycle, and have settled in cost at the market prices. Schools would ostensibly have less expensive, equivalent options on the iOS platform compared to Adobe Suite on Chrome. So why not just use iOS in this instance? The hardware is more capable (camera, microphone, touch interface, etc)? And Apple’s platform is much more secure, and doesn’t infringe on the privacy component of daily life.

              To your point about options for Chrome vs. iOS- the App store has millions of offerings; Chrome does not. Not even close. Maybe someday it will, but until then, there’s no comparison. What’s more is, the quality of apps on the app store far exceeds what’s available for Chrome and Android. The apps are developed by reputable and stable companies, and work on all iOS devices. This is important- high turnover of purchased products is a costly endeavor. I would suspect that school systems would want their app developers to be around for a while so they don’t have to continuously switch from one developer to another.

              That said, as one person on this forum said: “Chromegbooks are a brilliant invention for low power computing. Not everyone, and certainly not schoolkids, needs to run Final Cut Pro or Mathmatica. Chromebooks give you an office suite and a web browser. That’s what you need as a student”. This is the mentality of the U.S. school system, so your Adobe reference becomes a moot point when talking about our educational system.

              Lock-in has nothing to do with data in this case, except that Google loses the data argument handily when it comes to K-12 students. Besides, and ‘data’ being created in the current Chromebook/Google apps for education system would simply be documents and an occasional presentation- something that any platform (Office, iWork) offers. Like I referenced, Google is locked into their pledge to the students to keep data sacred (although they’ve been caught using this data in conflict with their agreements before). Lock-in with Chrome is tied to the promise of security and ease of management, both of which is only possible because the Chromebook/Google apps for education offerings are so restricted. As soon as Chrome tries to become a real tool (i.e., incorporates apps like Adobe Suite, expands to using the browser for other duties- Chromesync kicks in, and starts extracting mined data, etc), it’s no longer the secure and private platform that it promises to be. This is directly related to Google’s business model of mining and selling data in exchange for ‘free’ services. Hospitals and enterprises are shying away from Google services for this very reason. We have no access to Google drive at our hospital, and Android devices aren’t supported. The marketshare for Android and Google services are non-existent in the enterprise market. So the schools are stuck with Chrome- a relatively restricted platform, and potentially insecure should it try to become useful for the students.

  11. People are not computing, kids really are not computing. Most people use a computer to get on the internet, not photoshop, not even word process.

    At some time you need the kids to pick up pencil and paper, still cheap, and use their brains to compute.

    If there are classes teaching a software package, or programming, I can see the value of a “full fledge” computer, otherwise price is the driving force here. And Apple stuff is over priced for what most people are doing with their computers.

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