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School & District Management

Tech Titans K-12: Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft Compete for Ed. Market

By Sarah Schwartz — May 11, 2017 2 min read
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As an increasing number of districts implement 1-to-1 programs, adopt blended-learning strategies, and incorporate instructional software, they’re heavily relying on the four main providers of ed tech in schools—Google, Apple, Microsoft, or Amazon.

In a new exclusive special report, Market Brief explores these tech giants’ fierce competition for dominance in the K-12 market.

Each wants their devices, operating systems, and other products to be the standard in schools across the nation.

As the four tech titans battle for shares of school business, they threaten long-established education-focused companies like Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Scholastic.

Among these eight companies, whose products do educators like best, who wins their business, and who earns their loyalty?

EdWeek Market Brief and the Education Week Research Center surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,000 teachers and district-level administrators to find out. You can download the full research report for free here.

Some major findings from the special report and the research survey:

  • Educators are turning to Google. When asked who they would hire to help raises student achievement, 52 percent of survey respondents said Google for Education. Google’s Chromebooks are a favorite among teachers and district officials, who say the devices are easy to use and inexpensive compared to other options on the market. Of all educators surveyed, 42 percent said they use Chromebooks most often for instructional purposes.

  • Google is dominating despite recent concerns about student data privacy. In 2014, Google saved the email messages of millions of students using G-Suite for education. The company faced public criticism at the time, but has since regained schools’ confidence, in part by making public commitments to student data privacy going forward.

  • To win loyalty, companies need to adapt to schools’ needs—and not expect schools to adapt to their products. Educators are looking for products that won’t cause huge changes or pile on additional work. Interoperability and cost are big factors—the cheaper large-scale technology implementations can be, the better. In response, some companies are offering free software, building brand loyalty with students who they hope will turn into future customers.

  • Apple, Microsoft and Amazon are looking for new ways to gain ground. Microsoft and Apple have both recently released new products and features for education, hoping to fight back Google’s hold on the market. Amazon is moving into cloud computing and is also designing an open educational resources platform.

Read the full special report here, and download the research here.

Photo: Tristin Dunkerson, center, uses a VR viewer to go on a virtual field trip to a rainforest in the classroom of teacher Amanda Moore at Chapelwood Elementary in Indianapolis. Moore uses Google Expeditions for the project, and she uses a variety of Google tools to communicate and share assignments with students. -- AJ Mast for Education Week

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.