Google tries to steal Apple’s thunder with its first Chromebook tablets

Getting in just before Apple.
Getting in just before Apple.
Image: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
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On Tuesday, March 27, Apple is hosting an event at a Chicago public school at which it is expected to introduce some new education-focused hardware. Not to be outdone, Google’s first tablet, powered by the same operating system found on the millions of Chromebook laptops in classrooms across the US, was unveiled today, March 26.

PC-maker Acer has announced the Chromebook Tab 10, a 9.7-inch tablet with a built-in stylus that starts at $329—the same price as Apple’s current cheapest iPad. It runs on Chrome OS, the same operating system found on laptops including Google’s, and appears to be a direct competitor for the lower-end education market that Apple is reportedly planning on going after with tomorrow’s event.

The Acer Chromebook Tab 10.
The Acer Chromebook Tab 10.
Image: Acer Education

While Apple has long been a dominant player in the college-age education market—MacBook and MacBook Pros are dotted around lecture halls across the US—it has pretty much ceded the grade-school market to cheaper players like Google and its hardware manufacturers. According to The New York Times, some 30 million US students use Google software products for classwork. In recent years, Apple’s answer has been to offer iPads to students.

Many, including The Verge, believe that Apple will announce an even-lower-cost iPad at tomorrow’s event. But even if it’s priced below Acer’s new device (and the other Chrome tablets that will surely follow), it’s unlikely that the Apple version will be as affordable after adding a keyboard case and stylus. Currently, Apple’s keyboard case is sold separately for $160, and its Pencil stylus costs $100.

Quartz will be in attendance at Apple’s event tomorrow at 10am US Central time, so stay tuned to find out its answer to Google’s latest coup on the education market.