Really interesting statistic, and shame it isn’t being talked about more.
Harriet Taylor for CNBC:
"Chromebooks now make up more than half of all devices in U.S. classrooms, up from less than 1 percent in 2012, according to a new report from Futuresource Consulting...
" 'While it was clear that Chromebooks had made progress in education, this news is, frankly, shocking,' said Forrester analyst J.P. Gownder. 'Chromebooks made incredibly quick inroads in just a couple of years, leaping over Microsoft and Apple with seeming ease.' "
That’s an incredible leap in market share for a product category. I use the term “category” intentionally - Chromebooks aren’t just a brand of Google laptops, but a new type of product altogether despite looking exactly like any other laptop. I think this is its main appeal.
The device runs just one app - Google Chrome. I was skeptical at first when it was first announced, but coming across news like this really makes sense of it all. The web browser is probably the single most used app of our generation - Google’s web browser is today’s most widely adopted browser. Make that the OS and that gets rid of many barriers all around, from UI/UX to engineering to economic viability.
It’s easy how this then appeals to schools, as they’re cheap and easy to use. Although let’s not skip to conclusions - the platform is three years young. It’ll be interesting to see if this is reflective of Chrome OS’s long-term trajectory, or just a fad. I’m willing to believe it’s the former, based purely on the appeal of price and the cost savings on IT (e.g. dealing with fewer bugs, fewer updates, etc.). However, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a fad.
I’ve yet to play with a Chromebook, so I don’t know how it fares design-wise, but we can still analyse it conceptually. There’s plenty of reason why a cheap machine that runs purely on web apps, as opposed to native apps, can fail in the long-term. Will Google continue investing in the platform? Will Google continue improving their apps in a way that caters even to children? Will Google start focusing on and prioritise margins? Will minor design flaws contribute to a build-up of frustrations (which is a matter of reliability, and not just ease)?
We’ll see. A lot’s happened for Chrome OS in the last three years, but a lot can still happen in the next three.