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article imageGoogle Chromebooks now 50% of all education PCs, nobody sure how

By James Walker     Dec 5, 2015 in Technology
Google's Chromebook laptops may not be the most popular devices in general but their low cost and lightweight form-factor are making them a winning solution for education. Half of all computers in U.S. classrooms are now Chromebooks.
In 2012, Chromebooks accounted for just 1 percent of devices used in education. In the past three years, however, the cloud-orientated devices have managed to grow to dominate the classroom. Today, over half of all computers in a U.S. school will be a Chromebook. Over 30,000 new devices are activated every day.
CNBC reports the news comes as a big surprise to analysts. Google has long remained the underdog in the conventional computing market, trailing leader Microsoft and popular but pricey alternative Apple.
It remains unclear how Chromebooks have managed to find so much success so quickly, even as the cost of Windows laptops has fallen to match or even beat that of the $200+ Chromebook base price. One analyst, J.P. Gownder, described the figures as "frankly, shocking" when talking to CNBC.
Google itself seems to have been taken aback by the impact Chromebooks have had on education. Rajen Sheth, director of product management for Android and Chrome in business and education, told CNBC: "It's been amazing to us to see that growth happen in just that short amount of time."
Google's success has been partially attributed to its suite of apps available for Chromebooks that let teachers manage multiple devices at once. Lessons, notes and revision guides can be easily shared to classes in just a few clicks using Google Play for Education, a cloud-based platform aimed specifically at schools.
Other devices popular in education include Microsoft's range of Surface tablets. The company often markets the hybrids towards students, highlighting how the Surface Pen stylus and OneNote can make collaborative note-taking with other students and teachers simple.
Its own cloud-based suite of productivity tools, Office 365 for Education, is also rapidly growing but it has a much broader focus than Google Play for Education, potentially making it harder for teachers to immediately pick up and use. Before Google's sudden success, Apple was actually the dominant hardware vendor in U.S. education.
Whatever the reason, Google has managed to dramatically leap-frog both Microsoft and Apple in just 36 months, slashing the former's market share to 24 percent from 43 percent and the latter's from 52 percent to 24 percent.
The report comes only a month after rumours began to circulate that Google could be planning to kill off ChromeOS and Chromebooks, merging the devices with Android. The company quickly dismissed the claims from insiders and stated "ChromeOS is here to stay." The platform may still have a tiny foothold in the general computing market but it is now clear it does have some key strengths, including an exceptionally strong presence in education.
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