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Chromebook becomes unlikely competitor to Apple, Microsoft

Alice Keeler via Flickr CC

In 2013 Chromebooks became the fastest-growing segment of the PC market as it started expanding its sales in school districts. By fall of 2014 Chromebooks shot ahead of iPad shipments for educational purposes, and last year, Chromebooks outsold Mac OS devices in the market despite expectations for it to fail from the outset.

Why Chromebook's getting ahead: It's not just about price. One of the big appeals is each student can log into any Chromebook and as soon as they log out another student can use it. They are also easy to manage, have no software to install, and update automatically — schools typically have little to no IT support, so the full hardware solution Chromebooks offer is key.

Why it matters: Apple and Microsoft have taken note, and may be trying to catch up, per TechCrunch. The opportunity to expose first-time computer users in K-12 spaces to your product and turn them into lifelong users is too good to pass up.

  • Microsoft already supports tablets and laptops that compete on price with Chromebooks but has struggled on these other fronts. Windows 10 cloud, expected to be announced next week at a NY event, could help with that.
  • Apple has always had education at the center of its operations, and now some of its decision making appears to be influenced by Chromebook's rise to success. They're now offering Classroom alongside iOS 9.3, which brings a similar easy log-in system for multiple students and gives teachers an overview of accounts being used at one time. And Apple cut its prices to fall in line with Chromebooks, around $300 a pop.