Google’s Chromebooks outsold Apple’s Macs in the U.S. for the first time

Laptops running Google’s Chrome operating system reached a milestone last quarter: For the first time ever, computer makers shipped more Chromebooks than all Apple desktops and laptops combined, according to IDC.

While Apple should be concerned about this stat, Microsoft should worry too.

The popularity of Chromebooks is driven strongly by demand from K-12 schools. Chromebooks start at about $85, and they’re designed to run web-based applications.

“Cost is but one reason they are winning there,” analyst Linn Huang told CNNMoney. “Google has also done a fantastic job building out a compelling management console that makes these devices easy to deploy and manage in a school setting. I’d argue, that has been the biggest driver of their growth as opposed to the low price.”

While Microsoft continues to dominate computer sales in schools outside the U.S., particularly with portable devices, it too has been losing ground to Google (GOOGL, Tech30) inside the U.S. — which makes up a third of the global education tech market.

Chromebooks made up more than half of portable device shipments to U.S. schools last year, a growth of 12 percentage points over 2014.

That rise has pushed Windows’ share down from 25% to 22% and Apple’s share of Mac shipments down from 34% to 25%, according to a recent report from Futuresource Consulting

Apple (AAPL, Tech30) and Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30) have made updates to their products and prices partially in response.

Apple has made it easier for students to share iPads and schools to manage Apple IDs, for example. And Microsoft has worked with HP, Lenovo and Acer to build cheaper devices under $300, according to Mike Fisher, associate director at Futuresource Consulting.

But just this week, Google may have also added another reason for people to like Chromebooks when it announced that the devices will be able to run Android apps.


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