Ed Tech Trends

Global Personal Computing in K-12 Market Expected to Slow in 2016

Google Chrome OS and Microsoft Windows devices experienced growth in the first quarter of the year as Apple devices continue to slide.

k-12 ed tech trends: classroom computing 

Unstable economic conditions internationally are putting the brakes on the global personal computing market in the K-12 sector; meanwhile, in the United States, growth is expected to be strong this year, though not in the double digits as it had been the previous year, according to a recent report by London-based research firm Futuresource Consulting.

The Futuresource report tracked global device sales over the past several years and compared them to the first quarter of 2016. While sales and shipments were strong in 2015, with double-digit growth in shipments compared to 2014, the first quarter of 2016 saw shipments drop by more than 15 percent to 4.8 million units, compared to the same period in 2015. The largest declines have been taking place in Latin America.

“Projects in Venezuela, Mexico and Argentina all slowed significantly during the first quarter, while those in Venezuela are under threat for the rest of the year due to the difficult economic conditions within the country caused by the fall in oil prices,” said Philip Maddocks, market analyst for Futuresource, in a prepared statement.

“The outlook for the rest of the year also remains bleak, with a number of projects canceled or postponed in Latin America, while in the rest of the world traditional large scale projects in Turkey and India also look unlikely to see activity during 2016,” Maddocks said.

The report also looked at shipments at the local level, and indicated that within the U.S., growth has also slowed following three years of exceptional sales which saw more than 26 million devices sold into the K-12 education sector. During the first quarter of 2016, shipments reached 2.04 million units, which equated to 9.5 percent growth year over year, representing a slowdown from robust, double-digit growth of 2014-2015.

Despite this slowdown, both Chromebook and Windows devices experienced unit growth during the first quarter, while Apple continued to see both MacBook and iPad volumes decline year over year.

In terms of market share, Chromebooks maintained their popularity during the first quarter, accounting for more than 50 percent of education sales in the United States in the three-month period ended March 31, while Windows saw its share of the market decrease year over year within the U.S. to less than 25 percent of all shipments, the report said.

Globally, Windows maintained its dominant position as the No. 1 operating system during the first quarter, gaining more than 6 percent year over year to reach 46.1 percent of shipments. Windows has been gaining ground on Android, especially in emerging markets, while Chrome continues to sell predominantly in the U.S. — 90 percent of Chromebook sales remain in this country.

The report indicated that major tech companies continue to make new products and updates to their operating systems; however, educators and administrators seem to have difficulties keeping up and making choices.

“Whilst the supply side of the industry continues to make technology advances at a rapid pace, in many instances educators are being overwhelmed by the complex speed of development and the dizzying array of solutions and providers on the market,” Futuresource said in a prepared statement. “The OS battle for the education market is reaching a new level of complexity. Whilst device choices will remain a key battleground, developments in provider ecosystems will likely become the major talking point in the next 12 months.”

The report is available for a fee on the firm’s website.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].