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Global K-12 Mobile PC Market Projected to pick up in 2018, as Large National Projects Compensate the Slow Down in the USA

06 Mar 2018 - Global sales of Mobile PCs into the K-12 market increased in 2017, with annual shipments growing 11% year-on-year, reaching 29.2 million units, up from 26.3 million in 2016. The second quarter of the year was the most successful one, growing 21% to 9.2 million units, compared to the same period in 2016, with the largest growth coming from the rise of Chromebooks in the US. In the fourth quarter, the total mobile device market declined 9% year-over-year, primarily due to a smaller number of projects happening in the Middle East and Africa region, which declined 57% year-on-year in unit terms, as the first phase of a large deployment of tablets to Kenyan schools concluded.

The report highlights that growth in the US market has slowed in H2 2017. During the fourth quarter of 2017, shipments reached 2.08 million units, which equated to only 1% growth year-on-year. "Despite the slowdown, both Google and Windows devices saw unit growth during the fourth quarter, while Apple's iPad volumes declined year-on-year after shipments reached a quarterly high of over 1 million units during Q2 2017," commented Ben Davis, Senior Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting. "The sub $300 price category saw the largest rise in share, growing 6% year-on-year, in part thanks to Microsoft and its OEM partners launching a raft of lower cost education focused Windows devices in recent past." These devices have been positioned as Chrome compete solutions, providing an alternative to the value orientated Chromebooks, which are widely adopted in US schools.

Outside of the US market, market conditions are proving to be positive. The Rest of World (World excluding US) market reached 15.5 million units in 2017, a 13.7% year-on-year increase. Most of this growth can be attributed to large scale national projects taking place in 2017. After a slow 2016, Latin America saw large scale national deployments restarting in most key markets, including Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela. The Asia Pacific region grew 23.5% year-on-year, with key projects happening in India. The outlook for 2018 is positive, with volumes forecast to grow 20.3% to reach 18.7 million globally with Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela driving the market in Latin America, whilst Japan and South Korea drive growth in Asia Pacific. The Middle East and Africa region is expected to recover in 2018, with projects taking place in UAE, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

The OS Battle Goes Far Beyond Devices

When looking at global shipments of devices by OS, Windows maintained its leadership position throughout 2017, though declining slightly year-on-year, to account for 43.5% of shipments in 2017 and 47.5% in the fourth quarter. Despite its global market leadership, Windows has conceded share in some key markets 2017. In the Asia Pacific region, several large regional and national projects have opted for Android based tablet devices, placing pressure on Windows share. In the US, the Chrome OS continues to hold a majority share of the market, reaching 59.6% of devices shipped in Q4 and 58.3% of devices shipped during 2017. The US market accounted for 87% of Chromebook shipments to K-12 schools globally in 2017, and Chromebook OS is continuing to grow its presence in other international markets. The Canadian market and the advanced markets of Northern Europe and Australasia are each seeing the rising adoption of Chromebooks in schools. Globally, the Chrome OS powered 31.3% of mobile PC devices shipped to K-12 schools in 2017.

As the education market begins to mature, the OS battle goes far beyond simply offering great devices at the right price point. Providers are also seeking to add functionality to support digital workflows that integrate with 3rd party solutions and create increasingly diverse and curriculum aligned use cases for devices in the classroom.

This trend is highlighted by the raft of education specific announcements made by both Microsoft and Google at the recent BETT Show in London.

Microsoft announced several updates to its M365 for Education offering, including OneNote Class Notebook, which now includes assignment and grade integration with the UK (SIMS Capita) and the U.S. (PowerSchool). Microsoft's group collaboration and assignment distributions platform, Microsoft Teams, has become accessible on iOS and Android, offering similar functionality to Google classroom. Another significant addition to its ecosystem is the introduction of Microsoft Learning Tools, which added dictation to the Office suite, helping students of all abilities to write easily using voice. The company also announced a range of content for its mixed reality platforms in partnership with leading educational publisher Pearson.

Google has put emphasis on the use cases of Chromebooks in the classroom, including classroom style presentations, experiences of creative apps for education, VR experiences and the beta program to record virtual experiences. It launched the 'Be Internet Legends' campaign, which aims to educate students about web safety and an enterprise edition of the G Suite with enhanced security, controls and customisation. Security and data protection were key themes communicated by Google, with the announcement of G Suite Enterprise for Education and strong messaging around it's products compliance with the soon to be implemented European GDPR.

As the mobile PC market in education continues to grow, and the product offering from major platform providers like Microsoft and Google expands, the competition between these major platforms is expected to intensify, with implications across the EdTech industry.