A report from Futuresource Consulting states that Chromebooks, as of the third quarter of 2015, now occupy a majority of computer purchases by US schools, clocking in at 51%. Figures are much lower worldwide, as Chromebooks only occupy 3% of non-US school market share.
Schools’ interest in Chromebooks has recently increased. Chromebooks have various advantages: they’re cheap; easy to maintain; are straightforward enough for educational use; and their built-in keyboards make them a more useful form factor than tablets. Tightening budgets also make Chromebooks attractive.
Some argue that students should prepare for the post-educational work world using a “real computer,” which from my perusal of some tech site comments seem to imply Windows PCs. While I’d imagine schools would love to have fancier or higher powered computers, they also might not have the budget for such. The Los Angeles school system iPad debacle might also be scaring some schools away from spending sizable amounts of taxpayer money on more expensive computing equipment.
Of course, Chromebooks aren’t perfect. One concern is Google’s privacy policies. This week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about students’ privacy while using Chromebooks. The EFF is also offering Chromebook users tips on how to tighten their privacy aspects.
Despite the above concerns, the sales of Chromebooks to schools don’t seem to be slowing down. I’d imagine that for most students, they can easily take care of their usual school tasks. Chrome OS is based on a modified version of Gentoo Linux. Thus, students are removed from the usual Windows maintenance concerns. Chromebooks are also affordable for less well off students.