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

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Apple’s iPad line now qualifies for educational discounts for the first time. The company has long discounted its Mac 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 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.

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