David Paul Morris | Bloomberg Getty Images
The coronovirus epidemic, which has forced children from across the country to come to school remotely, is helping push Chromebook into the mainstream.
Chromebook laptops run Google’s Chrome OS operating system. They can be cheaper than Windows computers and are much more affordable than Apple MacBooks. On Chromebook, Google Classroom is an easy to use web-based program that teachers and students count on to organize their work while schools are closed.
Technology research firm IDC estimated that device manufacturers shipped 9 million notebooks running on Chrome OS to 90% a year earlier, compared to a 15% growth rate for all PCs in the third quarter. Chromebooks represented 11% of total PC shipments in the quarter.
Microsoft’s Windows remains the dominant PC operating system. If ChromaMix takes users to be even more comfortable with services like Chrome OS and Google Docs, the wave of Chromebooks could cut Microsoft’s lead.
“The typical game plan doesn’t really exist in the least recent quarters, because it’s a gold rush for Chromebooks, so people can take it,” said Jitesh Ubrani, a research manager at IDC.
Chromebooks have been available since 2011. Acer, HP, and Lenovo make some of the most popular devices, and Google has sold Google-branded Chromebooks since 2013.
Some schools purchased Chromebooks for students and promoted pickup events on social media.
Parents have also purchased Chromebooks for their children.
Corey Richardson, head of research and strategy at the advertising agency Fluent360 in Chicago, bought a refurbished Lenovo computer for $ 200 on Amazon for 8-year-old daughter Portia, a student at Private Daystar Academy. He wanted something practical and easy to use.
“It’s been a great investment,” he said. “I think if we need to replace it after the school year, we’ll get all the utility it needs. If it lasts for another school year or two, that’s great.”
Richardson said her daughter decorated the laptop with a sticker and used it to talk with friends and watch YouTube videos on Facebook’s Messenger Kids app, in addition to school work.
Dave Ellen Grady, a senior pastor at Christian United Methodist Church outside Atlanta, said he paid $ 400 or $ 500 for a new HP Chromebook from Best Buy for his 11-year-old daughter, Joey. She was given one by her school, Henderson Middle School, but Grady said they returned it as “a child whose parents couldn’t give one.”
One way Joey uses computers is for the orchestra class – he plays Viola. Students cannot all play together in person, so Joey plays while the teacher watches and listens to the other end of the video call.
Chromebooks are also gaining traction in the corporate world, where some large companies have bought them for employees. This week Parallels announced the release of software that enables Chromebook users to access Windows, which can give office employees a way to access custom work applications.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai told analysts about the company’s first quarter earnings in April, “We have seen a huge increase in demand for Chromebooks.”
Consumers are starting to pay a bit more for Chromebooks as they opt for touchscreens and higher-performance models. Ubrani said the average selling price of the Chromebook was $ 320 in the second quarter, down from $ 300 in the second quarter of 2018.
“It’s a slow climb,” he said. “But it’s still a climb when we’re talking about the low price band.”
Watch: Chromebook means China stuck in trade war for American students