Mobile Computing

Analysts: Chromebooks Pass Up All Other Devices Combined in U.S. Schools

Shipments of Google-powered Chromebooks to K-12 schools have surpassed Apple and Microsoft Devices combined, according to market research firm Futuresource Consulting.

In the third quarter (July through September), shipments of Chromebooks to schools in the United States reached 1.63 million units, representing about 51 percent of total device shipments to schools. Adding in Android-based tablets, Google-powered devices represented 53 percent of all devices shipped to schools in the quarter.

"The rise of Chromebooks has coincided with the need for Districts to implement online assessment (and the stipulation that all devices needed keyboards)," according to Futuresource. "The combination of the simple to use ecosystem, attractive hardware price point and industry leading management platform has resulted in Chromebooks gaining widespread momentum in the US market."

Among the success factors cited by Futuresource were the "simplicity for IT administrators to manage and deploy devices at scale" and low price points, which helped Google corned the "entry level" market.

Looking ahead, however, Futuresource noted Microsoft will be ramping up its efforts to compete with Google with the launch of Windows 10 devices and "a wide range of Windows notebook devices ... targeting the sub $300 price point. HP and Acer have already launched the HP Stream and Acer Cloud Book, with equivalent solutions from other OEMs likely to be announced in early 2016. Microsoft may have been on its back foot for a while but a war path has been carved and it's aggressively fighting to maintain and grow its position."

Futuresource also noted that 2-in-1 devices will be a "battleground" in K-12 in 2016 as prices drop into the $300 to $350 range.

According to Mike Fisher, associate director of education technology at Futuresource: "Chrome is the clear U.S. market leader now with over 50 percent of the K-12 OS market share, meaning Apple and Microsoft both have significant ground to make up. Microsoft is making strong moves, developing a partnership with Lightspeed to address device manageability, whilst bringing new devices to market which are likely to compete head on with Google in the key sub $300 range. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft can halt the momentum Google has developed in the US. We envisage that the summer buying season in 2016 could be incredibly competitive with an OS price 'war' taking place."

It's worth noting that outside of the United States, the picture looks substantially different: Chromebooks make up only 3 percent of devices shipped worldwide in the third quarter. Futuresource explained: "Many countries globally, especially the major emerging markets such as Brazil, Mexico and India, do not have the connectivity required to run a cloud based infrastructure, and although Chrome adoption is developing steadily in the more mature Western European markets, it's not at the same explosive growth rate as witnessed in the U.S."

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 29-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEDavidNagel (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).