Apple Slides, Microsoft and Google Grow in Ed Tech Market


(Photo: Mike Mozart. Creative Commons)

Despite the success of Google Chromebooks, Microsoft continues to dominate the education marketplace for operating systems.

Microsoft increased its market share in the education sector from 47% to 55% between 2014 and 2015. It defied analysts' expectations and roared back from a dip in market share in 2013.

A Windows blog post by Yusuf Mehdi post trumpets Microsoft's success. "We continue to be excited by the strong momentum we see for Windows 10 – from well over 200 million devices running Windows 10, to developers embracing Windows 10 and delivering all new apps and experiences, to enterprise customers like the US Department of Defense adopting Windows 10 at record pace. And now, according to Futuresource, we see that Windows continues to be the leading, global platform for K – 12 education, with twice as many Windows devices shipped in 2015 as the closest competitor."

D. Smith of EdTech notes that even given its dominance, Microsoft faces stiff competition from Google's inexpensive Chromebook notebook, which has swept through the K – 12 marketplace since 2014. Chromebooks accounted for 38% of devices shipped to buyers in 2014, and it increased this share to 50% in 2015.

Microsoft has been retooling itself, however, to compete with Chromebooks. It now offers lower-priced notebooks and is partnering with Lightspeed Systems to develop better management capabilities.

"Microsoft and Apple are both reacting to Google's rise in the US by making significant improvements to their respective ecosystems, while Microsoft is bringing new lower cost devices to the market to compete directly with Google in the sub $300 category," said Phil Maddocks, Futuresource Consulting's market analyst for education technology.

Android has been the biggest loser in Microsoft's resurgence. Windows has replaced Android in Mexico, while in Thailand, a different tablet program was scrapped in favor of Windows notebooks.

A press release from Futuresurce notes that the US-UK K-12 education market is by far the largest globally and saw more than 10.5 million devices sold throughout last year. Outside of the United States, the sale Chromebooks remained slow, and it only reserved 3% of the market share in 2015. Experts predict that the market for education technology will slow in 2016 because most buyers will have already purchased their devices.

Also of note, Apple lost considerable market share globally in 2015; it lost 8% of its market share in the U.S. alone. Compatibility and manageability of its devices is a major concern for schools and consumers, but Apple is trying to make the necessary changes to regain a competitive footing. It is introducing a multi-user functionality for iPads that will include a classroom application, the ability to share devices across students, and bulk Apple IDs that can be managed by school districts.

Additionally, Apple's acquisition of LearnSprout, a San Francisco education-based startup, will help the tech giant improve its offerings. LearnSprout collects real time information from student information systems and generates dashboards that display metrics on student performances. Analysts believe that LearnSprout will allow Apple to broaden its clientele, who might otherwise have concerns about Apple's accessibility.

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