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Summary:

It’s hard to find consumers that have embraced Chromebooks. The education market is a different story as 5,000 U.S. school districts now use Chromebooks according to Google. Is Microsoft on the way out of the classroom?

Samsung Chromebook XE303

Not everyone is warming up to the idea of Google Chromebooks, but the education market seems to be. Chromebooks are used in 22 percent of U.S. K-12 school districts said Google’s Caesar Sengupta, vice president of product management for Chromebooks, speaking to Business Insider on Wednesday.

2013 Chromebooks

We knew that some school districts were adopting Chromebooks — it’s been a recent recurring topic on our Chrome Show podcast — but more than one in five school districts taking the Chrome OS plunge is more than I expected. And I’ve been using a Chromebook full time for nearly 1.5 years.

The rising adoption makes sense though for a number of reasons. For starters, most Chromebooks are lower in price that traditional laptops or computers: You can find a few models for under $200, for example. They’re also easy to manage and deploy through the Chrome Admin console.

Of course, Windows machines can be managed through Microsoft’s tools as well, but having done that in a past life — I used to flash images, manage and deploy laptops to a mobile sales force in the thousands — it’s more of a complicated process than managing Chrome devices. Chromebooks are inherently more simple: A Linux kernel and the Chrome browser are the bulk of the software.

Should Microsoft be worried? Maybe in the long-term, but Windows isn’t going away from the classroom any time soon. However, the entire browser and cloud based approach provided by Chromebooks does have cost and usability advantages both for end-users and for support organizations. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues in the education market, and if it does, how Microsoft tries to combat it.

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  1. I hope someone comes up with a $500 Chromebook with decent specs before my Macbook Air dies. My definition of decent specs – 13.3″ (1440 X 900), 32GB SSD, 4 GB RAM, Haswell CPU, 720p webcam. Doesn’t have to be super light like the MBA. I’m fine with a 4 lb laptop. I don’t know why they didn’t improve on the Samsung 550 and had to come up with Chromebook Pixel.

    1. I think one of the options for the upcoming Acer C720 Haswell Chromebook will fit the bill – except maybe to screen resolution.

    2. You can always buy a regular laptop and put ChromeOS on it.

  2. 22% of all schools? I find that number to be suspect.

  3. Not schools – School districts. Very important distinction.

    1. On the other hand, there are a lot of 1:1 deployments in those, which pushes the numbers up against Windows or Mac deployments in schools.

      1. So, if you needed to guestimate the number of devices sold through the chromebooks for edu program, what would your number be (and how did you get there)? Thanks!

  4. I have been closely following this trend for over a year now and this figure doesn’t surprise me in the least. There has been a constant stream of stories of particular schools or districts adopting Chromebooks for pilot programs or one on one technology conversions. They make absolutely perfect sense for the classroom because of their security—kids can’t download viruses and mess them up–and their very low-maintenance costs compared to their rival OSes. Their fast boot and almost instant wake-up make them much more convenient for “lid-up, lid-down” teaching than inexpensive Windows machines that quicly get sluggish. Given that most educational software is now in the cloud, including interactive textbooks, and that Google Apps for Education has a much broader and continually growing base in schools, choosing Chromebooks for older students that need a keyboard and a productivity suite is a no-brainer.

    1. You seem like you have been following this closely. How many devices would you guess have been sold through Chromebooks for education nationwide? Looking for a ballpark figure, thanks!

  5. How does this jive with the sales numbers/forecasts?

    I’ve heard some reports saying that only 3M Chromebooks have been sold since inception?

    What are the sales figures here?

  6. I’ve read the Chromebook is (or was) the biggest-selling laptop on the Amazon store. Which doesn’t really suggest it’s a consumer failure.

  7. Really there are 25,000 school districts in the US?

    5000 school districts use Chromebook with 20% (5000 x 5 = 25,000).

    Massachusetts alone has 406 school districts and it is a small state.

    From (http://www.data360.org/dsg.aspx?Data_Set_Group_Id=1389) is indicating there are >120,000 school districts including public and private school districts in the US.

    So rather than 20% of schools Chrome is used in <5%.

    1. The data you point to says number of schools, not school districts. Key difference.

      1. And extrapolating from Massachusetts makes no sense. Maryland is also a small state and has 24 school districts: one for each count. Each state handles this differently….

  8. How many of these “deployments” are simply pilot programs with one classroom of devices or less? Heck, my company has one for testing, if we were a school district, would that one device add to the 5000 number?

    With that said, I think ChromeBooks and the Google program really makes sense for K-12. They come bundled for ~$600 per device you get a nice device such as the Samsung ChromeBook, 4 years unlimited replacement warranty on the device, lifetime MDM coverage for the device, 4 year subscription to Google Apps for Education, and some other perks. The up front cost is important for schools as they tend to have money up front via bonds and such and little in the way of later maintenances cash.

    1. I think these are deployments, not pilots. Most of the pilots have turned into deployments in any case, because the outcome of the pilots have been extremely positive.

    2. Google Apps for Education is not a subscription service. It is offered to schools at no cost.

      It is important to distinguish between the prevalence of Google Apps for Education and Chromebooks in schools. The former is more widespread (particularly at the college level) as the suite can be used with any device and integrates with other educational software offerings. Separately, Chromebooks are a great tool if you are using Google’s or any other educational cloud services.

  9. Chromebooks got off to a rough start, but Google seems to have found the niche for them. Chromebooks are a good option for education, as they are easy to manage and use. And they boot up fast, so students don’t have to wait for halfway through class for their laptop to be ready.

    But what about schools that use Windows applications? Or that access applications that require support for Java?

    This can be addressed with third-party solutions such as Ericom AccessNow, an HTML5 RDP solution that enables Chromebook users to connect to any RDP host, including Terminal Server and VDI virtual desktops, and run Windows applications or desktops in a browser tab. That means that you can open up an Internet Explorer session inside a Chrome browser tab, and then connect to the applications that require Java and run them on the Chromebook. It’s also possible to run other Windows-based testing or educational applications.

    For more information about AccessNow for Chromebooks in Education, visit:
    http://www.ericom.com/Education-ChromebookRDPClient.asp?URL_ID=708

    Please note that I work for Ericom

  10. Chomebooks in schools are a FAD, just like netbooks where. Districts are spending tax payer money purchasing on equipment that hasnt been proven. Tell me what school is still using the netbooks they purchased a few years ago…Its a FAD! School should stick with either a PC or a Mac and if they want to use GAPPS then at least they have the option to. If you use chromebooks you are locked into Google. Chromebooks are low performance devices. In the real world we cant rely on chromebooks to use as an everyday computer so why would we give these to students. And we all know Google tracks data, what better then to track school aged children so Google can control the future. Its a fad and a waste of time/money.

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