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How Google took control of the classroom, through the channel

How Google took control of the classroom, through the channel

From almost a standing start, the tech giant has caught up, and now surpassed, market incumbents

Google continues to surpass Apple and Microsoft as the technology of choice in classrooms across Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ), cornering the local market through an expanding ecosystem of channel partners.

Within the space of five years, the tech giant has caught up, and now surpassed, market incumbents through a renewed approach to education.

Backed by improved laptops and applications, the vendor consulted teachers on product designs in a bid to gain a level of loyalty among students that has the potential to last a lifetime.

And it’s playing out in the numbers on both sides of the Tasman.

In Australia, the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Education is reaping the rewards of opening access to G Suite for Education, while also creating Google IDs for every student across the state.

The partnership provides Google with access to more than 750,000 students and over 85,000 teachers across NSW.

Meanwhile, New Zealand is a number one country for Google, joining the US and Sweden as markets where Chromebooks are ranked as the leading device used in schools.

As reported by Reseller News, Chromebooks continue to be a top choice for Kiwi schools, building on continued market momentum during the past two years to record 46 per cent of market share during the first half of 2017.

Windows devices - across both PC and tablets - took second place with 32 per cent of education segment share in the first half of 2017 while Apple, a one-time powerhouse in Kiwi education, ranked third with a share of 22 per cent.

Market metrics

Such figures echo growth at a global level because from almost a standing start, Google has gained worldwide popularity in showcasing an education brand that differs to industry rivals such as Apple and Microsoft.

“The competitive battle between iOS, Chrome OS and Windows remains fierce,” said Mike Fisher, associate director of Futuresource Consulting, a specialist analyst firm.

“The growth of Chromebooks in US education has certainly been a major headache for Apple and Microsoft.”

Whilst 90 per cent of Chromebook global sales remain in the US, Fisher said international sales are steadily increasing in certain territories.

“At a time when the move to online assessment was a primary driver for adoption, Google presented a straight forward and well marketed proposition of entry level devices, management software and collaboration tools; creating a compelling and low-cost solution to meet the productivity needs of digital classrooms,” he added.

As explained by Fisher, Chrome OS subsequently stormed the market, accounting for over 50 per cent of devices shipped in 2016.

“As worrying for its competitors, the education market is providing Google with a launch pad for growth into the larger and more lucrative commercial and retail markets,” Fisher added.

In response to rising Chrome OS adoption, both Microsoft and Apple have made major education focused investments during the past couple of years.

Yet Google’s momentum is showing no signs of slowing down, both locally and globally.

“The G Suite for Education platform continues to help students and teachers to interact seamlessly and securely across devices,” Google head of education Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ), Suan Yeo, told ARN.

Backed by a fresh round of G Suite Enterprise for Education offerings, the ACT Government recently committed to rolling out 15,000 Chromebooks to support online learning for all secondary students in Canberra public schools.

As reported by ARN, Datacom won the contract to deliver 15,000 Acer Spin 11 Chromebooks to schools in the capital as part of a plan by ACT Education Minister, Yvette Berry, to modernise the Territory's schools.

“We expect technology will continue to play an increasing role in classrooms and learning in 2018,” Yeo added.

“Also, we’re excited about the potential of virtual reality and augmented reality in education. Google Expeditions has enabled more than two million students globally to go on virtual field trips all over the world.

“We are also seeing a trend of learning analytics being applied in schools to better understand how technology can improve education outcomes and create more personalised learning for students.”

Channel play

As Google gains ground across the education market, the channel continues to evolve alongside, as partners recognise the value in aligning with an industry leader.

“There is a great opportunity for partners that want to build their business for the future and be part of change,” Yeo said.

“Google for Education partners are tech curious, they really understand the problem that educators want to solve and work collaboratively to provide a complete end-to-end solution.”

Once on-boarded via distributor Synnex - which represents the Google for Education brand across A/NZ - Yeo said partners can leverage resources which include education pitch decks, one pagers, cases studies and market insights, alongside access to sales training, technical workshops and industry events.

Spanning services, technology and professional development, the Google for Education partner program is the central mechanism for driving market growth through the channel.

“We’ve designed the program to enable our partners to sell, service and innovate by leveraging our products and platform across the Google for Education suite,” Yeo added.

“Partners are a fundamental part of the Google for Education mission, to help teachers inspire curiosity and students to discover and learn together.

“Many students and teachers in A/NZ are continuing to choose Chrome as their preferred technology platform and we look forward to working with them in 2018.”

According to Yeo, Google partners with Synnex across A/NZ in a bid to “build efficiencies” in the channel, leveraging distribution to provide a platform capable of allowing the vendor to “scale at pace”.

“With an additional focused investment we have been able to create a strong enterprise and education channel for Chrome,” Yeo added. “We also have dedicated resources within Synnex and Google to support our fast growing partner ecosystem.

Whilst Google remains the dominant market leader, it’s anticipated that many Chromebooks deployed during 2014/15 will be due for replacement in 2018.

With both Microsoft and Apple developing compelling alternatives to the Google product suite, Fisher asked whether these vendors can convert Chrome OS users to their environments?

“To answer this question, the market will be keenly watching the OS decisions of school districts refreshing investments,” Fisher observed. “Trends here will likely frame discussions around the competitive landscape moving forwards.”

And during this consultative period, the channel will prove crucial.


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