What it is: For the longest time, Apple products have been used in schools and now Apple ha an education event scheduled for March 27.
In the early days, schools used Apple II computers. Then schools shifted to more popular MS-DOS and Windows PCs. Finally, schools shifted to cheap Chromebooks that are easy to maintain, inexpensive to buy, and cheap enough to be disposable if students break them. Competing against cheap Chromebooks limited the iPads to schools that specifically wanted the iPad instead of Chromebooks, but most schools opted for cheaper Chromebooks instead.
Now Apple needs to get back into the education market because what students use in schools, they tend to use in the work place. That helped establish Windows as the dominant business operating system and it’s now helping Google break into the corporate world as well.
First, Apple needs cheaper iPads, not the same price as Chromebooks, but low enough to be appealing. Apple can never compete against Chromebooks on price so price is just one factor to make iPads more appealing. Second, Apple is planning to release ClassKit, a program that lets teachers track and monitor the progress of students through an iPad. If ClassKit proves practical and useful, that could help steer more schools into paying more for iPads to get more features than a cheap Chromebook can offer.
Third, Apple is emphasizing coding for everyone and that means they need to put Xcode on the iPad. This would let students create iPad apps directly on the iPad. With the iPad processor getting more powerful with each generation, it’s essentially as powerful as last generation’s PCs. That means an iPad should have enough power to create iPad apps. By letting students create iPhone/iPad apps directly on an iPad, Apple could insure a generation of programmers and make iPads more appealing in classrooms as well.
So the combination of lower prices, classroom tracking, and app development should help steer more schools towards iPads over Chromebooks. If price is an issue, schools will always choose Chromebooks. If features are the priority, then Apple hopes schools will choose iPads.
Chromebooks will likely continue dominating the education market, but Apple just needs a sizable share of the education market to maintain the popularity of iPads. Ideally when schools compare the features of an iPad to a Chromebook, they’ll see the iPad offers more value. Apple needs the education market and the iPad will be the key to keeping students wedded to Apple products now and in the future.