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Apple Takes Aim at Chromebooks with Low-Cost iPads for SchoolsBy Shirley Siluk
Posted: March 26, 2018 9:44am PDT
Currently, the U.S. market for education-focused devices is dominated by Google's Chromebooks. But Apple, which has also targeted schools with a variety of offerings, appears likely to make a new attempt to challenge Google's position when it announces a new product during a "field trip" to Chicago tomorrow.
At the event, set to take place at 10 a.m. Central Time at Chicago's Lane Tech College Prep High School, Apple will unveil "creative new ideas for teachers and students," according to an invitation the company sent on Friday. The agenda is expected to include news about a low-cost iPad for education as well as an announcement about new Apple software designed for school use.
Apple, which normally unveils new products at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters, last held an off-site education event six years ago in New York City. In December, the company announced it was working with the city of Chicago to bring its Everyone Can Code program to public school students.
Low-Cost iPads as Chromebooks Alternative?
Despite a number of education-focused initiatives, Apple has struggled to establish a strong foothold for its devices in schools. In fact, Google's Chrome operating system has grown over the past few years to achieve a 58 percent share of the K-12 mobile computing market in the U.S., according to research released by Futuresource Consulting earlier this month.
"The strong combination of affordable devices, productivity tools via G-Suite, easy integration with third party platforms/tools, task management/distribution via Google Classroom and easy device management remains extremely popular with US teachers and IT buyers alike," Futuresource reported on March 2. "The rise of Chromebooks has also set new industry benchmarks with regards to average device pricing, with prices reaching as low as $120 on certain projects."
Apple's event in Chicago tomorrow could herald the arrival of an entry-level iPad priced at $259, according to The Verge. However, Apple isn't likely to announce a city-wide program for iPads in schools at the event, according to Bloomberg, which cited people familiar with the company's plans.
School Deployment Challenges
Apple's Everyone Can Code program is scheduled to roll out to all Chicago's public schools as well as to the City Colleges of Chicago in the spring. However, the company has had a tougher time achieving success with its hardware in the education market.
In 2013, Apple announced a $30 million rollout of iPads to students across the Los Angeles Unified School District -- a program eventually expected to be worth more than $1 billion to the company. But the initiative foundered due to issues with the accompanying educational software, iPad administration difficulties, and other problems, eventually leading to a settlement in which Apple paid the school district $4.2 million.
By contrast, Google has come to dominate the K-12 market in the U.S. in part because of the ease of use and deployment for Chromebooks.
"Most people think the low-cost hardware was the primary reason schools embraced Chromebooks, and it was a factor, but the ease of deploying and managing the hardware was the primary appeal for most," IDC analyst Tom Mainelli told The Verge.
In addition to a possible low-cost iPad, tomorrow's Apple event could also provide more details about ClassKit, a software framework for educational applications that appeared in iOS 11.3, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system now available in beta. However, several news reports indicate that Apple isn't likely to debut a much-anticipated low-cost MacBook.
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