Google (GOOG) is becoming a force to be reckoned with in several arenas — but perhaps underlooked is its status in the education market. Not just at the college and university level, but also in elementary and high schools.
Why? Well, Google’s not just cherry-picking the best and brightest computer science and engineering grads. It’s also after a bigger share of the money that flows into the educational market by selling Chromebooks and Chromeboxes.
And if Google can turn elementary school students into converts at an early age … well, you’ll have kids asking for Android, not Apple (AAPL), which can help feed the beast for years down the road.
Google in the Classroom
In an era where computers are ubiquitous in the classroom at all levels, many school boards and college campuses spend a considerable amount of money on information technology.
Buying, configuring and maintaining PCs running Microsoft (MSFT) Windows or Apple’s OSX is expensive. So you know ears are perked when Google claims using one of its low-cost Chromebooks or Chromeboxes instead of a traditional PC saves a school board an average of $5,100 over the course of three years.
Google provides a helpful online calculator on its Chrome for Education website, with comparative costs broken down into categories including initial purchase price and IT software. Enter the number of students in a school district, and the calculator will spit out the estimated costs for equipping them with a PC versus a Chromebook.
Plug in a number like the 640,000 students who are part of the Los Angeles Unified School District and you get a jaw-dropping result — nearly $4 billion over three years for traditional PCs, but just under $603 million on Chromebooks.
While I have no doubt that Microsoft, its manufacturing parters and Apple would dispute those numbers, what they can’t dispute is that Chromebooks cost a lot less than PCs and iPads.
And as TechCrunch’s Frederic Lardinois notes, Google and its hardware partners moved a million Chromebooks to schools in the last quarter, so clearly that cost-saving pitch is finding some takers. That’s why Microsoft is rushing cheap Windows laptops to market, and Apple recently released a cheaper iMac by cutting back on hardware specs.
Those cheap Chromebooks are increasingly appealing to students (and their parents), too.