Apple wants to sell more iPads to schools, but Google already owns the education market

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At its education event in Chicago today, Apple unveiled a new version of its iPad tablet, along with new software aimed at students and teachers. The event pitched the iPad — $299 for the education market, $329 for everyone else — to educators. But in the U.S., the education market has mostly opted for Google Chromebooks over the past several years.

Specifically, Chromebooks represented about 60 percent of mobile device shipments into U.S. K-12 schools in the fourth quarter of last year, according to Futuresource Consulting. Apple’s iOS devices garnered about 11 percent of the market and Macs about 4 percent.

A longer look at the trend: Google operating systems — mainly Chrome OS, which powers Chromebooks — have led classroom notebook and tablet shipments since 2014. Microsoft and Apple had about a 20 percent market share in 2017, giving Google a strong lead.

Well, for one, because education matters. Apple says it cares about education, students and teachers, and the work it showed today suggests that it’s not just lip service. And in the era of platform lock-in and/or customer loyalty, starting users early can’t hurt.

That said, today’s event doesn’t seem likely to change the market trajectories — or Apple’s business.

Education used to be one of the company’s key markets, but more recently it only represents about 10 percent to 15 percent of its sales, Loup Ventures’ Gene Munster estimates.

“We believe today’s announcements will have a small impact on their education business, but an immaterial impact on their overall business,” Munster wrote about Apple in a blog post today. “Our research suggests iPad is strongest in K-5 and Chromebooks are preferred 6-12. We don’t think today’s announcements change that dynamic.”

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