Google has announced that over 10 million students and teachers in Malaysia will be using the company's Apps suite for learning. They will especially be using Google's Docs products for creative writing, composing presentations and keeping all their work in the cloud to be accessed anywhere there's an internet connection.
In addition to signing on as a Google Apps customer, Malaysia is also purchasing an unspecified number of Google Chromebooks – lightweight, ultraportable laptops running the Chrome operating system. The purchase and the new Google partnership goes right along with the announcement that Malaysia plans to wire all of its 10,000 schools with 4G internet access and hope to bring the ratio of computers to students to 1:10 in the near future. The government calls it part of the education blueprint to "place Malaysia firmly on the path to development."
According to VentureBeat, the reason for choosing the Chromebook for the country's hardware isn't a secret. The laptops are extremely affordable, stacking up nicely against many of Google's own Android-running tablets and much more financially viable than Apple's pricey iDevices.
In addition to the computers being attractively priced, the educational software that runs on them is itself free to use.
That's of course, in strong contrast to its Google Apps for Business, which costs $50 per user per year. Google had originally made that free for businesses with under 50 users, but it quietly killed free access in December last year. Deals like this put Google in direct competition with Intel, as well as other computer manufacturers. Intel has a global education initiative which has, for example, put computers in the hands of all middle and high school students in Portugal, and focuses on working with local hardware and software producers to create educational laptops, tablets, and software based on Intel's references designs.
The Malaysia deal is another feather in the cap of Google's education division, as a growing number of schools and districts around the US — and around the world — are turning to their cheap notebooks to bring technology into their classrooms at a reasonable price.
Globally, more than 3,000 schools have now adopted Chromebooks, which generally cost around $300-500, although they will cost significantly less in volume, and Google had a Christmas sale last year, offering Chromebooks at just $99.