Chromebooks are beating iPads in the classroom

A school administrator would wheel in a cart piled with Chromebooks. The Chromebooks would be distributed to the students, who would log on and start working through various assignments and lessons. When class was over, they’d log out and place the Chromebooks back on the cart for someone else to use.
For me, this simple scene explains why Chromebooks are now outpacing iPads in classrooms, according to numbers released this week by research firm IDC. In the third quarter, Google shipped 715,000 Chromebooks to schools compared to 702,000 iPads from Apple. IDC said this was the first quarter Chromebooks had beat iPads in the classroom. And it’s just one more body blow to the iPad, which is facing a projected decline in sales for Apple’s current fiscal year.
Don’t underestimate how much this might bother Apple. The company has a long history in the education market, going to back to the early 1980s. And more recently, chief executive Tim Cook had taken to routinely boasting about the iPad’s appeal to educators. A year ago, in an earnings conference call, Cook said Apple had 94 percent of the education tablet market. “I’ve never seen a market share that high before,” Cook said at the time.
It’s an impressive statistic, and one that turns out to be totally misleading. The real competition for Apple is not other tablets in the classroom, but Chromebooks. It was just a couple months after Cook’s remarks, which led me to assume that every educator was buying iPads, that I saw the parade of Chromebooks in Oakland.