Just when you thought the netbook was going out like a lamb, in comes the Chromebook, roaring like a lion.
New data from analysis firm the NPD Group shows that 21 percent of all notebook sales in 2013 were Chromebook devices, according to a post on TechCrunch. Unlike traditional notebooks, Chromebooks don’t run on the Windows operating system. Instead, they’re powered by Google’s Chrome OS, which is a cloud-powered operating system that mimics the company’s popular Chrome web browser.
When Chromebooks first appeared on the market a few years back, many critics panned the devices for their lack of offline capabilities. Since then, Google has invested in building applications and features that work in offline modes. The company has even dedicated a section of its Google Play store for these applications.
On the K–12 side of U.S. education, schools have snapped up the affordable, low-maintenance devices in droves. The Mukwonago Area School District (MASD) has 900 Chromebooks in service throughout its schools, and the price point was a huge factor in the district’s decision to adopt the devices, according to a report from our sister publication EdTech: Focus on K–12.
“Affordability was a big issue. The deployment with a tablet or PC would have been much more expensive and would not have provided some of the features that were included with the Chromebook. The Chromebooks were truly the whole solution, pricing out at about $300, including the warranty and management features,” says Kelly Kovnesky, MASD’s supervisor of network operations.
Could Chromebooks make a similar impact in higher education? The Undergraduate Library at the University of Illinois recently replaced its fleet of loanable computers with Chromebooks, according to a blog post from the library. And college students are beginning to ask if the devices make sense for coursework as well.
Considering the lure of Google’s free Google Apps for Education productivity suite, it’s not too far-fetched to imagine more Chromebooks making appearances on more higher-ed campuses in the future.