The K-12 education market has proved to be a new battleground for tech giants to tough it out. Google's Chrome OS has quietly captured the market in the U.S., but Microsoft is stepping up its game too.
Last year, the Redmond company and its partner OEMs released several low-cost Windows 10 S PCs targeted specifically at the education market. The devices seem to have worked as Windows saw a considerable jump of 6.5% in the sub-$300 category in the education market - its highest market share in the last four years.
Microsoft, on its part, took this opportunity to boast about the new milestones it has achieved in the market:
- Every month, more than one million new Windows 10 devices are being used by students in K-12 and higher education.
- OneNote has grown more than 75 percent in the last year, and more than 18 million new student notebooks have been created in OneNote since the start of the school year.
- Microsoft Learning Tools usage is growing at an incredible rate with more than 10 million monthly active users across Word, OneNote, Outlook, Microsoft Edge, and Office Lens2 and is supported in more than 30 languages. Learning Tools has been shown to increase reading speed and comprehension for students of all abilities, leading to test scores that are 10 percent higher than students who did not use Learning Tools.
According to the consulting firm Futuresource, the K-12 market grew 11% over the previous year to move over 29 million units across the globe. However, smaller projects in the Middle East and Africa caused a 9% decline year-over-year in the fourth quarter. The U.S. market slowed down as well, selling only 2.08 million units in the fourth quarter- growing a meager 1% over Q4 2016.
Chromebooks still took the lion's share of the market, shipping 58.3% of the unit sales made in the U.S. last year, and making a huge dent in international markets such as Canada. Apple's iPad faced a much tougher time as its sales declined in the fourth quarter.
Microsoft has been aggressively pushing its cost-effective PCs to schools and even highlighted its advantages over Google's Chromebooks. Earlier this year, the company released sub-$200 laptops for the education market with Google making similar attempts. The Redmond corporation is even making it easier for users to switch between the Education and Enterprise versions of Windows 10.
With the market expected to grow in 2018, the competition between the two corporations in the K-12 segment will be an interesting one to watch.