March 26, 2018
The actual product here is irrelevant. Chrome OS is popular in schools for one reason and one reason only, they are cheaper than iPads and schools are horribly, terribly underfunded. While this particular tablet may cost as much as an iPad would today and presumably we’re getting a new iPad tomorrow at a lower entry price, this would only be a temporary advantage for the iPad. Google OS have always succeeded largely on a race to the bottom, where Apple doesn’t even try to compete. No matter what happens with this new iPad and the pricing on that I don’t see the price floor of an iPad going below $199, and I would imagine that a Chrome OS tablet will come out below that price before the end of the 2018.
This could take a lot of wind out of the sails of Apple’s education event tomorrow, but we’ll have to see exactly what story it is Apple is selling. I could certainly see them pushing special capabilities of the Apple Pencil, the ClassKit framework which I’m really excited to dig into after tomorrow, and general differences in Apple’s privacy approach which I think isn’t nearly emphasized enough in the Apple vs Google in the classroom discussion. Frankly I’m astounded that Google is allowed to have anything to do with public schools. And there’s always the possibility that Chrome OS on tablets could be just as popular as Android tablets, which is to say not at all.
My wife has a mix of Dell desktops, Chrombooks, and iPads in her classroom. She has expressed nothing buy disdain toward the Dells and Chromebooks, but recently opened another Donors Choose campaign for more Chromebooks simply because she’s trying to get to a good device/child, and Chromebooks are slightly cheaper. Hopefully market changes in the next few days can change that calculus in a meaningful way.