What’s the best-selling device in K-12 markets this year? Google Chromebooks

Apple iPhones and iPads may be beating out Google Android in the enterprise but Google Chromebooks are fighting back in schools. A Monday post on the Google Education Blog said that Chromebooks are the top-selling devices for K-12 schools this year.

Google wrote:

In fact, according to IDC’s latest report on tablets and laptops in K-12 education, Chromebooks are the best-selling device in the U.S. this year. And they’re continuing to grow in popularity—in districts like Montgomery County, MD (more than 50,000 devices), Charlotte-Mecklenberg, NC (32,000 devices) and Cherry Creek, CO (26,000 devices), who have all begun using Chromebooks in 2014.

Both [company]Apple[/company] iPads and [company]Google[/company] Chromebooks are surely useful in the classroom, and so too are [company]Microsoft[/company] Windows laptops for that matter. But I can see why Chromebooks are picking up momentum for schools: For the money, they offer what educators and students need. The devices do have limitations by comparison. iPads have hundreds of thousands of apps available for installation while Chromebook apps are far more scarce. An iPad retails for twice as much as most Chromebooks, however, and the Google-powered laptops provide enough computing power for education between a fast web browser and the Google Docs productivity apps.

HP Chromebooks IFA

Until recently, Microsoft was generally staying out of the low-cost market but this year made changes to better compete against Chromebooks. Windows 8.1 with Bing is freely available to hardware partners, which are just now starting to offer a range of laptops starting at $199. HP and Acer are among the first to offer these devices, which undercut the price most Chromebooks.

Steve Paine from Chromebook World recently compared the Acer E11 Windows laptop with Acer’s Chromebook 13 — both are similar devices with the same $199 price — and finds the experiences comparable. Future education purchases could come down to software preferences and maintenance: You could always manage Windows machines during or after a deployment but Google offers a management console to the same with Chromebooks. Either way, the inroad Google has made in schools through Chrome OS devices may be facing more competition going forward.