Apple is losing ground in its traditional market: Education

Windows and Android have surpassed Apple in schools.

Almost since its inception, Apple has had a strong presence in education.

In the 1980s, schools weaned kids on the Apple IIe, including mine. From the 1990s on, it became all about Macs. You've probably seen the infamous picture of a classroom at the University of Missouri's Columbia School of Journalism with all the kids sitting with their MacBooks open.

But that is changing, with use of iPads and MacBooks in U.S. schools hitting a new low last year, according to market research company Futuresource Consulting. The firm sad that in 2016 the number of iOS and MacOS devices in American classrooms fell to third place behind both Google- and Windows-powered devices.

Of the 12.6 million mobile devices shipped to primary and secondary schools in the U.S. in 2016, 58% were Chromebooks, up from 50% in 2015. Windows devices held steady at 22%, while iPads and Mac laptops fell from 25% in 2015 to just 19% last year.

This is showing up in Apple's education revenue stream. According to IDC, Apple's share of the $7.35 billion in education spending in 2016 was $2.8 billion, down from $3.2 billion in 2015.

Futuresource cited a strong combination of productivity tools via G-Suite, easy integration with third party platforms/tools, task management/distribution via Google Classroom and easy device management for the reasons Chromebooks are doing so well. The pricing also helped, with Chromebook prices reaching as low as $120 on certain projects.

Despite its share remaining the same, Microsoft has made significant strides in the education market in recent months. This includes the launch of Microsoft Classroom, the cloud-based School Data Sync and a large number of integrations with popular third-party solutions. Microsoft also announced InTune for Education, a tool that effectively replicates the Google Management Console and allows IT admins to easily provision and set up large numbers of student devices remotely.

On the hardware side, Microsoft recently announced partner devices that would be priced at $189 to target Chromebooks.

"Microsoft has made huge strides in developing its education ecosystem offering in the past year, with major announcements on both the devices and platform side. To date however, these developments have not stopped Google's momentum within the U.S. K-12 market. Microsoft continues to face challenges to win back end-user mindshare," said Mike Fisher, associate director of education at Futuresource Consulting in a statement.

Apple has not been sitting still. Last year it announced its Classroom app, Swift Playgrounds, and a number of other major education-focused feature updates in iOS 9.3, including the ability to share iPads.

Futuresource predicts that 2-in-1 devices will be the next big trend in education, something Apple doesn't offer. Both Microsoft and Google and their respective OEM partners have announced a wide range of 2-in-1 products designed specifically for education and are expected to sell for under $300.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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