Will Google School Apple in the Education Sector?


Though Microsoft and Apple have had a long history of being the go-to computing devices in education, data over the past few months shows that Google is making huge gains in the space.

Source: Google.

Coming up from behind
A recent article in The Wall Street Journal showed that preliminary data from Futuresource Consulting has Chromebooks taking 19% of the K-12 tablet and PC market, with Apple at 47% and Windows at 28%. Those numbers may not seems like a big deal until you consider that Chromebooks had just 1% at the end of 2012.

The Chromebook spike in education matches up with data from the NPD Group showing that commercial sales of Chromebooks, including for education, shot up from January to November last year, from 0.2% to 9.6% of unit sales in the commercial channel. Meanwhile, Apple's notebooks went from 1.8% to 2.6%. Those numbers don't include sales of Apple's iPad.

Even back in July, a Forbesarticle noted that Chromebooks were edging in on Apple's education territory because of their low cost, ease of setup, and the fact that they can be easily shared without changing lots of account information.

One of the main concerns Apple should have with Chromebooks is obviously their low prices; some Chromebooks are priced just under $200. Even the several-years-old iPad 2 sells for $399 on Apple's website, and even with an education discount, the device isn't close to the Chromebooks' low cost.

But low prices may not be enough to buff current education trends.

Looking ahead
Futuresource Consulting said in a report back in December that, "Global penetration of mobile computing devices within K-12 education is forecast to reach almost 10% by the end of 2017, growing from just over 3% in 2012." So while Chromebooks are making headway right now, it may be a temporary trend among the bigger picture of in-class mobile computing.

CEO Tim Cook was asked about Chromebook competition on the company's earnings call back in October and responded saying that the company had its best education quarter, with over $1 billion in education revenue "for the first time ever". He went on to say:

"We do see Chromebooks in some places, but the vast majority of people are buying a PC/Mac or an iPad. Our share of tablets in education is 94%. I mean, it's sort of unheard of. I've never seen a market share that high before."

With Apple reporting its best quarter in education to date, it seems Chromebooks' move into the space hasn't hurt Apple just yet. The company will release its latest quarterly earnings this week, though, and investors should look to see if Apple gives any updates on education revenues that might show if Chromebooks are making a dent. With the education sector trending more toward mobile computing, it's likely Apple will hold a strong position despite the current uptick from Chromebooks.

Your essential guide to start investing today
Millions of Americans have waited on the sidelines since the market meltdown in 2008 and 2009, too scared to invest and put their money at further risk. Yet those who've stayed out of the market have missed out on huge gains and put their financial futures in jeopardy. In our brand-new special report, "Your Essential Guide to Start Investing Today," The Motley Fool's personal finance experts show you why investing is so important and what you need to do to get started. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.

The article Will Google School Apple in the Education Sector? originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Chris Neiger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2014 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Originally published