Apple Wants To School Google's Chromebooks With A Lower Cost MacBook
It was only a matter of "when"—Apple is reportedly joining the lucrative and thriving education sector in the form of a line of low-cost MacBooks. These could be coming as soon as the second half of 2024, but what the products will look like is mostly still too early to tell.
According to this DigiTimes Asia report, Apple may be offering cheaper computing options for educational institutions and, perhaps more importantly, attempting to take larger piece of the market pie. Currently, Chromebooks are the de rigueur hardware in K-12 schools in the US. In 2019, more than 13.9 million Chromebooks shipped, which then spiked at the height of the COVID pandemic. Over 30.4 million and 33.5 million shipped in 2020 and 2021 respectively, outselling Macs during that time.
Curiously, the demand for online education post-pandemic hasn't seemed to wane, either. This lower-cost MacBook move suggests Apple wants to renew its efforts in this segment where educational iPads and pricier MacBook Airs have faltered.
With the cheapest M1 MacBook Air variant costing $1,000, Cupertino's new laptops need to be significantly cheaper to really gain any ground. Somewhere in the $500-600 mid-range Chromebook area would probably be ideal. How Apple gets to that price-point will likely affect the materials and hardware specifications (like processor and display type), although DigiTimes states that the outer shell will still be metal. Another unknown is whether we'll see a cheaper, simplified, and education-focused Apple OS on these machines.
How well-adopted the supposed MacBooks will be is anyone's guess at this point. On one hand, current generation students (and in essence, school board members) have been steadily conditioned by Apple's marketing machine, therefore it'd be a hit for any school that use MacBooks in their classes. IT administrators, on the other hand, usually prefer the flexibility and simplicity that ChromeOS and Chromebooks bring. At the end of the day though, cost is usually the biggest factor, as education budgets never seem to quite go far enough.