Google, Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) announced Monday it had sold more than 1 million Chromebooks to schools from April to June as the search giant’s low-cost laptops competed with Windows machines and iPads in one of the largest markets for computing devices.
Chromebooks cost less than traditional laptops, with most models priced at $279 or less. Google has so far shed much of the stigma attached to early models -- they were relatively useless without an Internet connection.
“We could buy three Chromebooks for the price of a single desktop computer,” David Andrade, chief information officer of Connecticut’s Bridgeport Public Schools, said in a blog post explaining his district’s purchase of 9,000 Google laptops. “The district’s small IT team wouldn’t have to struggle to keep up with the repairs and updates on aging PCs. We would also save on support time and costs since Chromebooks update automatically.”
Google announced the second-quarter sales success Monday, less than a week after it reported earnings where revenues surged but profits fell short of analyst expectations. Profit margins on Chromebooks are slim, but Google prides itself on using the laptops, which run on its Chrome OS, as a springboard for increasing adoption of its sites and services.
“We decided to start using Google Apps for Education so every student would have an email address,” Andrade wrote. The district “also used Google Drive to move student documents off of our internal file storage system … so [students] can now work together and communicate with teachers even while not in the classroom.”
In June, Google added the ability to view and edit Microsoft Office files within the app suite spun out of its Drive cloud computing platform. Those apps, which include a word processor (Docs) and a spreadsheet editor (Sheets), are available on its Web browser for Windows and Mac, iPad, and its two operating systems, Android and the Chrome OS.
Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) initially released ads mocking Chromebooks for their lack of functionality when offline, a criticism Google has addressed with a series of updates that, for instance, now allow documents to be created, edited and saved offline. Last week, Microsoft said it would not sit idly by while its market share dwindled to 14 percent of the “total device space,” announcing the introduction of a $199 Windows 8 laptop called the Stream.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is also looking for a piece of the enterprise pie. The manufacturer announced a partnership with the International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) last week to begin pushing its iPads as a serious business solution.