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K-12 Computing Device Market Pursuing Rapid Growth Curve

K-12 schools across the USA are ramping up their computing device inventory, according to new research from Futuresource Consulting, with schools and districts expecting ownership to rise by an average of 22% over the next two years. That’s a big increase on last year, when schools were forecasting growth on average of 4.1%.

The Futuresource study, which is based on interviews with IT decision-makers within 404 school districts across all 50 US states, also shows that device coverage has slowly started to change. Desktop PCs are still the most prominent form factor, due to their back-office role and usage within STEM subjects. Yet the gap between desktop and mobile continues to narrow, driven predominantly by the adoption of Chromebooks, though laptops and tablets are also increasing their share of the estate.

Physical Devices Continue to Command Spend

“When we take a look at the nature of school’s IT spending, it’s the physical devices that still rule the roost,” says Chris Pennell, Principal Analyst, Futuresource Consulting. “Client computing devices, device-as-a-service, and leasing of computing devices, account for 31% of spend, which has dropped one percentage point since the previous year. IT infrastructure accounts for 22%, with learning software and apps securing third position at 18% of spend. And when we compare CapEx and OpEx spending, the pendulum has now swung towards operating expenditure.”

Prices Rising Across the Board

Schools report that device prices are on the up, with those teaching at kindergarten to fifth-grade level paying, on average, $300 to $400 per student device in 2020.  This year, this has increased to between $400 and $499 per device. For schools that teach grades six and over, prices have increased increase from between $400 and $500 in 2021 to between $500 and $699 this year.

Budgets Remain Flat Despite Aid, Though Future Funding looks Brighter

“It’s great to see that schools have now been allocated around $200 billion from the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan to help combat the impact of COVID-19,” says Pennell, “but despite this extra funding, school IT budgets have remained flat. The additional funding has offset decreases from regular sources of financing.

“However, the future for funding looks brighter, in the short term at least. Our research shows that schools expect an increase of nearly 15% on average in 2023 budgets over 2022. And the most significant growth will be seen across medium to large schools and West Coast schools.”

Futuresource Consulting’s EdTech Voice: Devices report is one in a regular series of four education technology reports issued by the specialist research firm. For more information on these reports or to make a purchase, please contact anjum.iqbal@futuresource-hq.com

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Chris Pennell

About the author

Chris Pennell

Chris Pennell is a Principal Analyst for Futuresource Consulting and is responsible for researching and reporting on enterprise technology trends. Chris’s research is focused on working with vendors and end-user clients to understand how technologies are disrupting and transforming the delivery of services by public and private enterprises. His main areas of focus include the digital transformation of front- and back-office services through emerging technologies as well as the increasing use of smart city solutions to improve outcomes for citizens.

Prior to joining Futuresource Consulting, Chris has spent the past 12 years researching government’s use of technology to drive better outcomes for citizens, most recently as the Research Director, Government Insights at IDC and has been a regular speaker on Smart Cities and Government technology.

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