During its earnings call last April, Apple spotlighted an IDC statistic that the iPad nabbed over 95% of the education market. Half a year later, it’s apparently playing second fiddle to Google’s Chromebook.
According to IDC, more Chromebooks have just shipped to schools in the U.S. than iPads for the first time.
See also: Why Apple’s iPad May Have Peaked
The research firm says that Google shipped 715,500 Chromebooks to U.S. schools in the third quarter, topping Apple’s 702,000 tablets. The reason: price. Google’s stripped-down Web-only laptop can be had for as little as $200. Meanwhile, last year’s iPad Air costs $380, even after the discounted education rate.
Keyboards Are Key
IDC analyst Rajani Singh also notes:
While the iPad’s touchscreen makes it a versatile device, the Chromebook’s integrated keyboard is also a factor in its appeal.
Appeal is one thing, but core requirements are another. The Atlantic reported in August that a change loomed for student testing, in which “Common Core online testing will require a keyboard”—a genuine physical QWERTY keyboard, not a display-only “soft” version.
The news come at a pivotal time for Apple. The peak holiday shopping period has always been the iPad’s bread and butter, with promotions and discounts triggering an uptick in business. That boost couldn’t come too soon now.
Should The Holidays Come Bearing Tablets?
The iPad, as the most commonly used tablet, may have the most to lose from education’s shift in focus, but it’s not alone. Since the back-to-school shopping season, tablet shipments overall have dropped 16%, says market research firm NPD.
Though it managed to scrape together some slight growth this year, the category in general still made for one of the most sluggish sales performers in 2014 across the whole consumer electronics industry, according to NPD’s November report.
Clearly, the Consumer Electronics Association hoped to change the dialogue around tablets, naming them as the top products on consumer wish lists. But if more schools have begun turning to Chromebooks, the shift could steer parents away from putting iPads or other tablets in their kids’ stockings this year.
Lead photo by Brad Flickinger; Chromebook image courtesy of Asus