Why iPads are losing to Chromebooks in education, and what Apple needs to do about it

“Phil Schiller said in 2013 that ‘education is in Apple’s DNA,’ and it’s no exaggeration. The company’s commitment to the education sector was there from the very beginning,” Ben Lovejoy writes for 9to5Mac. “Steve Jobs told the Smithsonian that he wanted to donate a computer to every school in the U.S. as long ago as 1979.”

I thought if there was just one computer in every school, some of the kids would find it. It will change their life. We saw the rate at which this was happening and the rate at which the school bureaucracies were deciding to buy a computer for the school and it was real slow. We realized that a whole generation of kids was going to go through the school before they even got their first computer so we thought the kids can’t wait. We wanted to donate a computer to every school in America. — Steve Jobs

“CNBC reported last month that Chromebooks now make up more than half of all devices in U.S. classrooms, while Apple’s share of classroom purchases more than halved between 2012 and 2015. Why is that, and what – if anything – can Apple do to reverse the trend?” Lovejoy asks. “Below are the are eight reasons I think Chromebooks are currently winning the battle.”

1. The LAUSD disaster
2. Cost
3. Multi-user support
4. Control
5. Apps
6. Sales Process
7. Hardware keyboards
8. Stolen iPads

What Apple can do about each of the eight points above discussed in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Again, there is no easy answer for a company dedicated to quality to compete in a market that’s hellbent on shortsightedly wasting taxpayers’ money on cheap, shitty junk.

Should Apple make a ‘CloudBook’ for the education market? – January 12, 2016
Can education give Apple’s iPad a much-needed sales boost? – January 12, 2016
Apple delivers multi-user support for iPad – in schools only – January 11, 2016
Apple loses more ground to Google’s Chromebook in U.S. education market – 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. What you mean is, Apple can’t design a device that kids can actually use and is priced economically. Isn’t that what Dell is doing now? If Apple intends only to sell to adults why even worry about Apple losing influence in the school systems.

  1. Well, knowing high school teachers and talking to them, I see the main reason is the joke known as mandatory testing. The schools have to roll out an enormous amount of systems for students to test at the same time and have limited budgets.

    At least that is the main driver in my limited scope.

  2. My opinion: the LA disaster was certainly very bad press for Apple, and enabled the ridiculously biased education IT people to pursuade the responsible financiers to purchase what was better for the IT folk, not necessarily the students. This whole debacle would likely have been prevented if Steve Jobs were still at the helm. This highlights an important difference between the management styles of Cook and Jobs- Jobs would have orchestrated every single step of that endeavor. The fact that Jobs was so hands-on was one of his best attributes, and was responsible for much of the background success for Apple. Cook missed the boat here.

  3. Sounds like a strong case for plastic iPads with built in keyboards. I’d call them ePads. Making them a bit bulkier and a bit slower than current generation iPad, to help keep the price down and prevent direct competition with the iPad.

    A computer really doesn’t have to do much to be useful for education: web access and word processing is the bulk of its use case. You don’t need a very fancy device to do these things, which is part of what makes Chromebooks so successful here.

    Device management in a school setting is a challenging. If Apple figures out how do device management well, the ePads could really leapfrog the competition. Perhaps instead of having adding mutli-user support, there could be something like a secure enclave, storing information that cannot be changed, that could be useful in resetting devices back to it’s original state, tracking stolen devices, or maybe even disable the device if used inappropriately or outside of a certain geographical area.

  4. Apple is losing the education market because they want to.

    Chromebooks fit the needs of today’s student. They’re connected, have the appropriate classroom software and are easy to deploy manage andmaintain. Apple currently has no such product in its lineup, its software doesn’t fit the needs of student management and it thumbs its nose at IT requirements. A poster above mentioned IT’s requirements being not aligned with student requirements. This is nonsense.

    Apple simply ceded control of this market when they couldn’t maintain the profit margins they wanted.

    Apple is not your friend or your dad. They are a company that manufactures devices to sell at a profit.

    1. All very true. I’m a volunteer at a small Catholic high school, and they have a good mix of computing hardware. The computer labs have a mix of iMacs and PCs, fairly current hardware. On those computers, the school teaches 3D illustrating, advanced business classes, photography and video production – all the things you need a real computer to do well.

      However, each student has a Chromebook for personal use. The students need a device for doing and submitting homework, tracking assignments, and accessing the web. You can do all of these things with an iPad, of course – if you supply a real keyboard and pay an extra $400 per device.

    2. No matter what .. APPLE has to regain its top position in the education market. (Cloud education tools is a fantastic direction.)
      Lack of doing so will have devistating effects down the line.

      Kids mindshare is uber important….
      Lose the kids , lose the future!

      Between chrome at schools and windows a the preferred serious gaming platform…Apple is losing a huge portion of kids mindshare !

      Noticed confernaces and starbuks , halls and rooms packed with macbooks and apple logos?
      These are the effects of the Mac vs Pc marketing with the cool kid as the front for apple …….. And apples dominance in schools..
      People effected through those campaigns are the people in those halls and rooms.

      Lose that focus Apple…and those Halls and rooms will be filled with logos other than Apple !

  5. What does Apple’s “Educational Sales” team look like? Do they have experts in their fields — former teachers and administrators at the elementary, junior high, high school, college, & university levels, with a passion for education and real business sense, too?

    For turned-on school districts, the IBM partnership with Apple sounds like an excellent opportunity.

    For test-taking alone, it sounds like even the original iPad would be perfectly adequate, which must be available at _very cheap_ prices. The older chip is certainly slower, but the machine still does the basics just fine.

    At the end of the day, if the only thing public schools want is “cheap machines to automate test taking”, then who cares if the business goes to Chrome Books? In which case, Apple is right not to even try to compete in that space.

    There is a world of difference between “education” and “test-giving”. Apple still dominates the *education market*, I think, certainly higher education. Years ago, my kid’s high school insisted on standardizing on PCs. Yet half the kids in her college used Apple Macs. What does that tell you? This was 7 years ago, and the ratio is probably even higher now for Apple, when Macs, iPads, and iPhones are considered. Apple dominates when student consumers are allowed to choose their own device(s).

  6. I work in education and here’s my take on why Apple is losing out in education.

    !. The people Apple has put in charge of education are incompetent. More interested in selling iPads than educational innovation.. Sales types in charge of education.

    2. Folks at Apple took the education market for granted

    3. Clumsy device management tools and unwieldy Volume Purchase Program (VPP). Whatever Apple is releasing now is too little, too late.

    4. Innovation in iBook died with Steve jobs. Very little has changed with iBooks since Steve introduced it.

    5. Itunes U is clunky and not worth jumping through all the hoops, especially in K-12 education.

    6. Apple too stingy with the iCloud storage for education.

    This is coming from someone who loves Apple. I am not a fan of ChromeBooks. But they are, cheap, easy to setup and easy to use. Add to that Google’s generous cloud offering to schools.

    It breaks my heart to say that Apple may never recover lost ground.

  7. Chromebooks are good enough for what schools need to do. They are also cheaper than iPads, a HUGE factor when one realizes that children from 6 to 18 will treat them terribly and break them in ways that we adults cannot imagine.

  8. The main reason why Chromebooks are gaining ground is how they sell the thing.

    They sell the device as a way for teacher to spy on their student’s work via Google’s OS and apps. Teachers now play Big Brother by being a voyeur…

    Murica is so bolted on “Big Brother”, it works. Teachers now are expected to be the first encounter of “Big Brother” in a childhood…


  9. Apple will always lose out to more aggressive companies. A company can’t expect to win contracts because they think they have a great product that intelligent people will be willing to pay for. It’s better to have some sleazy guy willing to provide a night of booze and hookers for the guys that sign the contracts. Apple seems to have this nose-in-the-air attitude that really doesn’t play well with BoE cheapskates.

    Apple doesn’t believe in loss-leader products and I get it. Porsche doesn’t sell loss-leader cars and no regular police force is going to be riding around in Porsches. Except you’re not going to have the news media yelling about how Porsche is losing out in market share to Ford or Chevrolet when it comes to selling police vehicles. Wall Street and the news media types don’t understand anything about keeping accounting books balanced and I find that really strange.

  10. To compete with Chromebooks, Apple needs to dump cheapass laptops and/or iPads into the market and make next-to-no profit on them, just like Gaggle.

    NOT gonna happen.

    Let’s see how long Goggle can keep up the charade of pretending its profitable to make their cheapass Chromebooks. Let’s also see how long it takes these cheapass schools to realize they’ve CHEATED their children’s education.

    *tink*tick*tick* 🕚

    1. Since Google itself doesn’t make the Chromebooks I doubt they are losing any money.. If anything it is the Chromebook OEMs that also produce laptops (Dell, Lenovo, etc.) that have to worry about HW sales revenue.

      According to the article below, a new affordable Chromebook to be released by ASUS may make Chromebooks even more attractive by allowing components in the device to be replaced instead of the entire unit.. http://liliputing.com/2016/01/google-launches-c202-chromebook-for-education.html

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