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Apple now offers education discounts on iPads. Is that because of Chromebooks?

Apple’s iPad line now qualifies for educational discounts for the first time. The company has long discounted its Mac(s aapl) computers for educators and students, but the tablet, which debuted in 2010, was never part of that promotion. Both the full-sized iPad and iPad mini qualify for $20 to $30 price cuts for eligible purchases according to Mac Rumors.

ipad air wide

The timing of the discount is interesting. I’ve seen an increasing number of school districts adopt Google(s goog) Chromebooks for reasons such as cost and simplicity. My stepdaughter came home from middle school last week telling me that her class just started using Chromebooks. Back in January, research firm FutureSource said Chromebooks suddenly counted for 1 in 5 education purchases.

I have to wonder: Has Apple decided to stem the growing tide of Chromebooks in schools with this pricing promotion?

Granted, the iPad is a very different device from a Chromebook. The iPad can run hundreds of thousands of apps, has a well-established accessory ecosystem, is intuitive to use and is a tablet. The Chromebook has far fewer apps, focuses mainly on web activities while online, is also easy to use and is a laptop. Regardless of the device differences, it’s clear that both can work in the classroom. It depends on what activities are done and how much money one has: You can buy a capable Chromebook for less than half the cost of the entry-level iPad which could sway some parents, kids and teachers to opt for a Chrome OS laptop.

It’s certainly possible Apple simply figures it’s time to bring the iPad into the educational discount fold. Perhaps it sees no threat to the iPad when it comes to educators and students. But the growing number of Chromebooks making their way into the classroom, combined with iPad sales that are still rising overall but at a slower rate, make Apple’s decision to reduce iPad prices intriguing. Let’s see if Apple puts even more emphasis on education at next week’s WWDC; if so, that would be telling.

24 Responses to “Apple now offers education discounts on iPads. Is that because of Chromebooks?”

  1. Shayspio

    This is how I always know when the threat is real. The ridiculous comments in a thread by loyalists of their favorite company. It mirrors almost exactly the same FUD found in articles on MS products too that Googles rising relevance is threatening. That’s not called a coincidence, that’s called fear.

    The problem is that it’s already too late, there’s nothing Apple/MS can do to combat the inevitable, no matter how many hardware/OS price cuts they give. It’s just that these companies & their fans don’t know it yet.

  2. xjudson

    Chromebooks require a gmail account. Most school school districts are hesitant to give up student security to Google. Plus create an account for every kid…

    • Like Google Apps for business, Google has a program for education where each child gets a corresponding account. My daughter has her own Google account, for example, but was given a separate one for the education account when the district rolled out Chromebooks.

  3. leicaman

    Betteridge’s law says no.

    This is like asking if a lawn mower competes with a hedge trimmer. Chromebooks are much more limited than iPads since they eschew native apps. They’re web browsers masquerading as laptops. The only advantage they have is better keyboards.

  4. You realize this isn’t institutional pricing? Look at the URL, see the “hed” in there? That stands for higher education. It is the pricing for individual purchases by college faculty and students. K-12 teachers are also included because, well, an Apple for teacher?

  5. J Carlson

    It’s my understanding these discounts are only good until June 28 as part of their “Graduation Promo” to educational sellers, of which I work for one. Apple had offered them until June 7th but just as of today extended them until June 28, and also offered the additional $5.00 discount on iPad Air. There is also a discount being given of $25 off for Mac Desktops as well as $50 off Macbook Pros – that’s in addition to their regular educational discounts.

  6. A Dad

    Our school system implemented both Chromebooks and iPads. iPads for lower elementary to 4th grade and Chromebooks for 5 through 12. iPads are definitely more expensive (even though they opted for a more expensive Chromebook and requiring parents to either sign a replacement guarantee or insurance. The Chromebooks have worked out reasonably well but mostly as a glorified typewriter and electronic homework sending device – as I feared not very creatively or expanding of the educational model. The iPad has worked out better in that regard with both some paid apps and free ones but definitely with more creative use by the teachers. Ironically the Chromebooks need for Internet all the time and the decision to have them all route through the School’s network resulted in a bottleneck for home use which required additional infrastructure improvements… oh by the way… both got discounts from the vendors and collective purchasing agreements.

  7. In our school district it’s all iPads thank goodness. They are mandatory. Having Google in your schools is like that creepy janitor. Who knows what he’s doing down there..

  8. Chromebooks will also a school district to have systems that would allow students to take the new federal educational tests. In Massachusetts, they are known as the PARCC tests. iPads can not be used without the purchase of an external keyboard. That may account for the reasoning behind some of the additional purchases.

  9. Xtophe

    “The best Google can do is Google docs, which is OK, but can’t compare to iWorks, iLife, and iTunes U” @ Bobby : nice one more jokes ?

    • BobbyDig

      When you consider Chromebooks lack quality education software compare to the iPad, you bet it does. The best Google can do is Google docs, which is OK, but can’t compare to iWorks, iLife, and iTunes U. Google is selling dated technology to school just to get ad business. As I mentioned above, Google has been CAUGHT scanning and pushing ads to kids. Even at a low price, is this the device you want in your kids life?

    • Robert Moir

      Well I work for a college and we buy devices in the several hundreds at a time. $30 discount per item over 300 items adds up to a saving worth having.

      Especially if you’re a taxpayer funding that school right? Or an educator that would like to replace an ageing classroom set of laptops AND also buy some new books for the library with whatever money you have left over from the IT purchase.

  10. Walter Ruggieri

    Chromebooks are making a dent in Apple’s educational sales, but I don’t think Apple has to worry to much. It’s still cool to use an iPad. The price difference is surprising though. To give a student an iPad to use it can cost $6-700. To give a student a Chromebook it can cost $2-300. The other thing to keep in mind is the cost to continue using the devices. Apple has an ongoing cost that can get quite expensive. Chromebooks have little to no ongoing cost thanks to all the free apps. While iPads are clearly better devices (I own an iPad 2) Chromebooks are low cost alternatives that can get the job done (I own an Acer C720 Chromebook). Just a note, I use my Chromebook way more than my iPad.

    • Steven

      ChromeBooks are an unmitigated failure. In 3 years they have claimed 0.4% of the browser page views in the US and less on a worldwide scale. For a machine that is little more than a browser, this is sad beyond belief.

  11. ☆ Trevor Gerzen ☆

    This doesn’t have to do with institution purchasing. This is about individual purchasing. Our school has been iPads in packs of 10 at a discounted rate for a few years now and every year people would ask if they get a 10% discount on iPads like the laptops. Every year I would tell them no, the only time the iPads are discounted is when we buy them in bulk. Now I can tell them they get a whopping a $20-30 off! Can’t see this being a major move to compete with Chromebooks that are a couple hundred dollars cheaper.

  12. BobbyDig

    Remember Netbooks? Well consider Chromebooks in the same league. Both were and are dated technology to make out of touch educators feel comfortable.

    The sad part, Google was scanning kids email accounts and sending them ads. Which brings me to this question. Why would anyone allow Google in their schools?

    The iPad is a superior device compared to a Chromebook and Apple is finally doing what it should have done from the beginning, discount the iPad for education.

    • leicaman

      Actually, I work for a school with campuses in 12 countries, and distance learning students around the world (even from Burma and Iran) and we use iPads extensively. They are vastly better than Chromebooks for education. Apple gives us a discount. We deal directly with their education staff.

      The biggest fly in the ointment is Blackboard intentionally cripples their LMS so that portable devices don’t work well for testing. The logical reason is they want us to pay for their grossly-overpriced iOS app. We would love a native app. We just can’t justify the price. We have many students in India, Africa, and other areas where money is a serious consideration. We still do print for many of them. No online technology is ready for them on a large scale.