Acer Targets Booming Education Market With Latest Chromebook


Acer C720 Chromebook
Acer C720 Chromebook


Acer announced a new Google Chromebook Wednesday that features Intel's new Haswell-based Celeron processor and a sleeker design aimed at the fast growing education market.

The new C720 Chromebook is 30 percent thinner than its second-generation Chromebook predecessor and features 7-second boot time and 8.5-hour battery life, and it is priced competitively at $250 for the education market, according to the Taipei, Taiwan-based PC maker.

The C720, which will be available through commercial and retail channels, features an 11.6-inch HD display with a 1,366-x-768 resolution, weighs 2.76 pounds and sports Intel's Celeron 2955U processor -- which improves speed and battery life. The C7 also features wireless networks via 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and offers USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports as well as two SD card readers.

Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global, a Westborough, Mass.-based Google and Hewlett-Packard partner, said he's impressed by the price and specs and thinks it will be a solid option for schools. "It will come down to performance and durability," Falcon said. "Those are the two most important specs after price," he said.

[Related: HP Teams With Google To Launch Business Chromebooks]

Acer is targeting the highly competitive $3.7 billion education market where 60 percent of Chromebooks are sold. The remaining portion of Chromebooks, IDC said, is sold via retail to consumers and small business owners.

"The education market is extremely competitive," said Rajani Singh, senior research analyst at IDC. She said Chromebooks have seen extraordinary growth within the education market despite fierce competition from Apple iPads, convertible PCs and traditional Windows laptops.

In 2013, IDC forecast that 12.5 percent of devices sold commercially to the education market will be Chromebooks. In 2012, only 1 percent of computing devices sold commercially to the education market were Chromebooks, according to IDC.

Acer's new Chromebook news comes just days after HP announced new Chromebooks targeting the business and education markets. HP, unlike Acer, has partnered tightly with Google on its release. HP said its Chromebook 14 model is enhanced with what it calls SMB IT in a Box -- a "one-stop shop" technology solution that includes Google Apps For Business with what HP is calling its own "unique" management software layer combined with HP PCs and printers.

Chromebooks are a bright spot in an otherwise depressed PC market said Singh. IDC reported Tuesday that third-quarter worldwide PC sales were down 7.6 percent. But, Singh said, the big winner was Google's low-priced Chromebooks.

Singh said both Acer and HP have an uphill battle to make a dent in the Chromebook market, currently dominated by Samsung. According to IDC, Samsung has captured 98.5 percent of the Chromebook market with Acer owning about 1 percent while HP, Lenovo and Google (Pixel) fight for the remaining market share.

The Acer C720 Series and C720-2800 model Chromebooks are currently available for pre-order at Amazon and Best Buy as well as volume distributors.

PUBLISHED OCT. 10, 2013