Mobile Devices for Schools Generating 'Huge Momentum,' Analysts Say
By the next academic year, mobile devices will be available for 1-to-1 computing for half of the U.S. K-12 student and teacher population, according to Futuresource Consulting Ltd, a U.K.-based research and forecasting company.
In fact, by the calendar year 2016, 54 percent of students and teachers will have access to a school-issued personal computing device, as the following bar chart shows:
"We see huge momentum developing" for mobile devices in U.S. schools, said Michael J. Fisher, associate director of Futuresource's education division. "It's a massive opportunity for all platform and publishing providers, on the back of device sales."
The projection is part of Fisher's "Personal Computing in K-12 Q4 2014 Market Track Report," to be released Wednesday. Next year, the company predicts a 10 percent growth in mobile devices in the United States alone, and a 12 percent growth globally.
Futuresource's predictions come despite some K-12 officials approaching expensive new technology projects with caution in the wake of a number of high-profile mishaps in districts. Just last week, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines announced that his district cannot afford to provide computers to every one of its 641,000 students, as well as staff and administrators.
Globally, the market for mobile computing devices in K-12 has been heating up, increasing by 18.3 percent in 2014, compared to 2013. In the U.S., the numbers are even more dramatic, with a 40.5 percent annual growth rate over that period, driven by the technology requirements associated with the common-core standards and tests and the overall move to online assessments, according to Futuresource.
Chromebooks—which commanded 39 percent market share in the U.S. in 2014—overtook Apple's iPads, at 26 percent, as the bestselling device on the market last year, the report found. More than 3 million Chromebooks shipped in 2014, according to Futuresource statistics.
The breakdown of various operating systems' popularity in education over the past three years are as follows (Chrome OS designates a Chromebook device, and iOS signifies an Apple product):
"Chrome has absolutely flown," said Fisher in a phone interview. "It has an attractive price point" for districts that need to prepare quickly for online assessments, he added.
While Chromebooks have a strong presence in the United States, they are less in demand globally, where tablets are preferred in developed markets, especially Western Europe, he said.
Fisher said it will be important to keep an eye on the potential growth of so-called "2-in-1s," convertible computing devices that can act either as tablets or laptops, depending upon whether the keyboard is attached or not. Futuresource expects these convertible devices to gain traction and market share in 2015.
Futuresource is keeping track of trends in as many as 46 countries around the world, looking at how governments are increasingly wanting to influence the skills of their workforce through major investments in school technology.
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