Google’s Chrome OS may be a long-term sleeper hit thanks to a growing user population among U.S. students – IDC’s new figures for tablets and laptop sales in K-12 education finds that Chromebooks as a category constitute the best-selling device across the entire category in 2014.
Chromebooks are probably succeeding in schools due to a few factors, including Google’s commitment to selling and distributing in these areas, and its institution of programs to help proliferate its Chrome OS notebooks. The company launched a program that offers a Chromebook lending library among higher ed institutions this fall, for instance, but Google has also targeted K-12 which special Chrome App education packs that offer big bulk discounts when purchased in volumes of 20 or more licenses at a time.
Google also touts its easy device management capabilities when explaining why Chromebooks are a hit with school deployments; they don’t require extensive IT department support to manage, per the search giant. But the real key to the success of Chromebooks in the K-12 tablet and notebook market is almost certainly cost – with bulk discounts, the browser-focused computers are likely far more affordable than either traditional Windows notebooks or iPads, and with the growing prevalence of web-based apps and tools, including core productivity software like Microsoft Office, Chrome OS’s deficiencies vs. traditional desktop computing platforms become less pronounced every day.
K-12 uptake is a good sign, but Google still has work to do in order to reinforce the idea that Chromebooks can follow students throughout their educational career, and into the working world.