According to the latest statistics by research firm FutureSource Consulting, Apple Inc. (AAPL) has fallen further behind Alphabet Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary Google in the K-12 classroom. Apple's operating systems – MacOS and iOS, which run on its MacBook computers and iPads, respectively – accounted for 19% of total devices shipped to classrooms in 2016, down from 25% in the previous year. The decline in Apple's market share occurred even as the total number of devices shipped to K-12 schools increased by 17.8% to 12.6 million. The entirety of that increase went to ChromeOS, the operating system that runs on Google's Chromebooks, whose share jumped by 8% to reach 58%. Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), the other big player in the K-12 education space, held steady at a 22% total market share in the classroom. (See also: Apple iPad Pro Sales Better Than Tablet Performance.)
To be sure, this is not the first time that Apple's iPads have lost ground to Google. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, Google's Chromebooks are cheaper and more readily available than Apple's iPads. This is mainly because Chromebooks are made by multiple hardware manufacturers and available through resellers. In contrast, iPads are available only through Apple salespeople, and iPads are relatively expensive compared with Chromebooks. iPads are also beset by regulatory hurdles and limited utility. For example, standardized tests require keyboards by law, but the iPad doesn't have one. Finally, a spate of bad news related to Apple's botched iPad rollout in the Los Angeles Unified School District may have negatively affected its chances in the industry. (See also: Apple Quietly Becomes Big Company Supplier.)
A New York Times article also mentions figures that quantify the impact to Apple's bottom line. According to the Times, Apple's sales in the educational market declined to $2.8 billion in 2016 from about $3.2 billion in 2015. In contrast, Microsoft's Windows saw its revenue edge up to $2.5 billion in 2016 from $2.1 billion in 2015, and Google's Chrome devices recorded revenue of $1.9 billion, up from $1.4 billion.
Indeed, Microsoft might turn out to be the stealth winner in the education space. "With rumors swirling in the technology press (not confirmed by Microsoft) about a potential new OS offering 'Cloud OS,' a stripped back, simplified OS, designed specifically for cloud with education in mind, would 'square the dots' on other recent moves Microsoft has made in education (in particular launching $189 devices)," said Mike Fisher from FutureSource Consulting. (See also: Apple's Endgame in the Education Technology Biz.)