Phil Schiller offers scathing critique of Chromebook, calls it 'cheap testing tool'

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2019
Apple SVP of Marketing Phil Schiller in an interview on Wednesday delivered a devastating take on Google's Chromebook initiative, saying the platform's success in the education market largely owes to its low price and broader institutional testing procedures.

iPad in Education
Germany's Wilhelm Ferdinand School, where every student gets an iPad. | Source: Apple


Schiller was asked about Chromebook's growth in education as part of an interview with CNET covering Apple's new 16-inch MacBook Pro, which launched earlier today.

The executive, who noted colleges are "dominated" by MacBooks, was asked to offer perspective on Chromebook's rapid adoption in education. He initially deflected, saying iPad is "doing really well" in the K-12 market, before lashing out at the inexpensive hardware family.

"Kids who are really into learning and want to learn will have better success. It's not hard to understand why kids aren't engaged in a classroom without applying technology in a way that inspires them. You need to have these cutting-edge learning tools to help kids really achieve their best results," Schiller said. "Yet Chromebooks don't do that. Chromebooks have gotten to the classroom because, frankly, they're cheap testing tools for required testing. If all you want to do is test kids, well, maybe a cheap notebook will do that. But they're not going to succeed."

The derogatory "test machine" reference has been floated by other Apple execs, including CEO Tim Cook in 2015.

Over the past few years, schools across the U.S. have moved to an assessment-driven curriculum. Facing a shift in priorities and mounting budgetary concerns, many institutions began to question the value of a Mac or iPad, while others simply could not buy a tablet as mandated tests require keyboards.

Apple conducted study "many many years ago" that found student engagement was intrinsically tied to academic success, Schiller said, the conceit being technology baked into iPad and Mac is better suited for the classroom than what is on offer from "cheap" Chromebook hardware.

The comments drew swift criticism, which Schiller attempted to allay in a tweet.

"Every child has the ability to succeed -- helping them to do that has always been our mission," he said. "In the full conversation with CNET, we discussed giving kids and teachers the content, curriculum and tools they need to learn, explore and grow. Not just to take a test."

Education was once a stronghold for the iPhone maker, but the company's lead in the segment, previously spearheaded by Mac, has been quickly eroded by encroaching newcomers.

In a bid to bolster a weakening stance in the sector, Apple has since revamped its education strategy to focus on iPad and specialized mass distribution software. The company has transitioned to a mobile-first strategy under the iPad in education initiative, providing schools a more affordable path to hardware purchasing and management.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    I once bashed Windows laptops in front of a teacher and his head started steaming. He was under the strong *and valid* belief that schools should employ a range of technology options, not go with one brand, one platform. While I think Macs offer the broadest access to technology as a single hardware platform, I also agree that students should be exposed to a range of options. Schools should not be biased towards one platform or brand. Buying decisions should be based on what's best for the students, not the IT department or the budget.

    Phil may be right that Chromebooks are only good for testing, so buy them for that, but also deploy a range of Macs, Windows and Android hardware throughout schools.
  • Reply 2 of 34
    cat52cat52 Posts: 124member
    I once bashed Windows laptops in front of a teacher and his head started steaming. He was under the strong *and valid* belief that schools should employ a range of technology options, not go with one brand, one platform. While I think Macs offer the broadest access to technology as a single hardware platform, I also agree that students should be exposed to a range of options. Schools should not be biased towards one platform or brand. Buying decisions should be based on what's best for the students, not the IT department or the budget.

    Phil may be right that Chromebooks are only good for testing, so buy them for that, but also deploy a range of Macs, Windows and Android hardware throughout schools.
    I fail to see how having a range of technology options benefits students. If Macs are the best, and I believe they are, then why deviate?

    I mean if a student learns on a Mac, but then can't figure out how to use Windows on their own, then I suspect that student has larger problems.

    And do you really want more of a school's budget going to IT then it needs to? Supporting every OS under the sun isn't easy or cheap, so seems to me those funds are vastly better spent elsewhere, whether on teacher's salaries or new textbooks etc.
    mdriftmeyerqwerty52MacProp-dogwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 34
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,256member
    Well, I can’t exactly disagree with Phil on this one!
    OkiRunp-dogwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 34
    Chromebooks remind me of the old dumb terminals I used to have to work on connected to an AS400 - can't do anything unless connected to the web.. Stupid machines..
    cat52OkiRunmdriftmeyerqwerty52davgregp-dogchiajimh2watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 34
    He also said that kids that use cheap laptops won’t succeed. What a douche. He took to twitter to try qualify his stupidity but too late. This is not a struggling company in a garage any more, it is the second largest company in the world. 
    muthuk_vanalingamlmacphilboogierogifan_new
  • Reply 6 of 34
    “...But they're not going to succeed."

    Ugh, although I agree with you Phill, never say those words again, they may one day come back to haunt you.

    philboogiemuthuk_vanalingamrogifan_new
  • Reply 7 of 34
    lmaclmac Posts: 204member
    Maybe Phil could put some pressure on the mobile device management software team? iPads are designed as personal devices, and that doesn't work in the classroom. Apple can turn their nose up at affordable, rugged technology for schools, or they could actually build something that schools need.
    muthuk_vanalingamp-dogwatto_cobraFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 8 of 34
    My wife has been a special-education teacher, mostly in middle school, for 26 years. They recently switched from using two generations of iPad to Chromebooks, unfortunately. Our rural district lacks the jack to do better. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 34
    lmac said:
    Maybe Phil could put some pressure on the mobile device management software team? iPads are designed as personal devices, and that doesn't work in the classroom. Apple can turn their nose up at affordable, rugged technology for schools, or they could actually build something that schools need.
    They have build something that schools need:
    https://www.apple.com/education/

    uraharawatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 34
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,815member
    This is a tough topic for me because, even though I’m a technologist to the core and love gadgets of every variety, I never found that technical tools and apparatus had an overriding influence on my motivation, interest level, or satisfaction that I derived from a high school/college course or training program. What mattered much more to me was the connection that I felt with the teacher or trainer and how motivating their teaching and communication abilities were to inspire me to dig deeper to master the subject matter.

    If teachers are using chrome books or iPads as a crutch or to “check the box” simply to meet accreditation requirements or if they are not truly passionate about the subject matter and the value of the tools to reinforce the subject matter - they’ve chosen the wrong profession and are doing their students a disservice. When “check the box” mentality is institutionalized up and down the educational system stack it doesn’t really matter what tools are foisted upon students, because the value added by the tools is negligible anyway.

    If Schiller's claim that Chromebooks aren’t really focused on adding value for student learning but merely providing a mechanism for reducing administrative and bureaucratic burden is true, then Apple is not really in a position to affect positive change in those organizations anyway. Those organizations are neither structured to utilize tools like iPads effectively nor inclined to put the needs of their students ahead of fiscal and bureaucratic influences. Every master mechanic needs quality tools to be successful, but buying a toolbox full of quality tools does not make one a master mechanic. 

     
    edited November 2019 muthuk_vanalingambigtdsthtchiawatto_cobraFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 11 of 34
    I won’t touch a Chromebook — not even sure that I’ve ever seen one, in fact — but for many cash-strapped public schools and more importantly, cash-strapped kids, cost matters.

    Unless he can come up with an appealing Apple alternative, Phil is being stupidly arrogant and dismissive. Not cool.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 34
    Not really sure what that quote clears up for him.  He is still implying that Chromebooks are only good for taking tests.  It's false.  His entire premise is false.  The tech used in schools is only a small portion of what helps to make successful students.  The primary facilitator of success is the teacher.  Not the Chromebook, laptop, or iPad.  

    In hindsight, I'm betting Phil is regretting the original comment.  I'm pretty freaking sure he thought that comment was going to get a different reception than the one it got.  It was tone deaf.  But if he's concerned about the success of the kids, and doesn't want them to become testing automatons, introduce educational initiatives like Google did.  He can be dismissive of Google's Chromebooks but they've offered soup to nuts solutions for schools that actually fit tightening education budgets.  Apple could easily do the same.  There is literally nothing stopping them... 'cept doing it.
    muthuk_vanalingamrogifan_newbigtdsFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 14 of 34
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    Apple SVP of Marketing Phil Schiller in an interview on Wednesday delivered a devastating take on Google's Chromebook initiative, saying the platform's success in the education market largely owes to its low price and broader institutional testing procedures.

    I dunno, Phil. Isn’t that a bit like saying cheesecake’s success in the marketplace is  largely because it tastes good and everyone eats it?

    You don’t tell folk why they shouldn’t buy into the competition, you tell them why they should buy into you. 

    However, I agree that it doesn’t make too much difference. They may use chromebooks at school, but that has little bearing on what they use at home. 

    But that was a rare misstep for Phil in my opinion. 

    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 34
    Chromebooks remind me of the old dumb terminals I used to have to work on connected to an AS400 - can't do anything unless connected to the web.. Stupid machines..
    You’re operating on some seriously outdated information. Chromebooks can do most things offline these days.  The Google app suite can operate in offline mode. You’ve got Android apps from the Play Store. If you’re adventurous you can install Linux desktop apps too. But in spite of all your offline options, the reality is if you’re offline these days, you’re limiting yourself anyway. How often do you actually  use a Mac or iPad with no internet connection?
    bigtds
  • Reply 16 of 34
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,391member
    I think Phil overreached a bit with his comments. I'm no fan of the Chromebook -- I hate the things -- but they are a BIT more than "testing machines," though they certainly ARE cheap in both senses of the term.

    If you have constant internet and don't care to use anything but Chrome, Google Photos, and Google Docs, then a Chromebook might be for you. Institutions love them because they are cheap and uniform, and don't allow much in the way of outside apps or storage (schools are as much about control as they are about education, as every student knows).

    I hate them because a) they are useless without an internet connection AND YET THEY ARE PORTABLES (whaaa?), b) they tend to get returned with problems or because the user wants to, you know, do something Google doesn't make an app for. A lot. As I say, cheap in both senses.

    And c) Google's pledge about student privacy is a complete crock that has already been exposed in several claimed "bugs" (you know, like FB privacy "bugs") and the amount of data the company collects via Chrome, GMail, Google Photos and Google Docs is staggering. Cheap hardware means they are supplementing the profitability by selling your data -- and they have more on you than you could possibly remember about even yourself -- to parties that use that data abusively to manipulate you far more extensively than you may realise.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 34
    Surely his comment about students succeeding is not actually about Chromebooks? What he appeared to say was just testing kids will not lead to success. Now, no school 'just tests kids' but some have a greater emphasis on testing than others and schools and teachers that emphasise tests tend to do less well than those that offer a broader diet (in terms of attainment, student motivation, mental health and future employment). And in the testing world, computerised tests are probably the worst tests possible for assessing critical Higher Order Thinking Skills (key for progress in education and future employment) - but maybe quite good at simple recall of facts. 
    The research on ICT in education doesn't show a massive uplift in student attainment (not when I look at the large meta studies from around the world)  - and where it does its probably more to do with increased motivation because students like working on computers. From my research (I work at a UK university in education) and most of the large studies if kids put down the computers (and the tests!) and starting talking with each other about the school work their understanding and attainment is much more likely to rise!
    From a researcher's point of view ... Phil is absolutely right on computerised testing and assessment-driven curricula but probably overestimates the benefit of the iPad to learning.
  • Reply 18 of 34
    ericesque said:
    How often do you actually  use a Mac or iPad with no internet connection?
    All the time. I have an old 2012 MacBook Pro (with a 24in Monitor) that I use for writing. It is never connected to the Internet unless I want to print something. Nothing on it needs to 'Phone Home and check with the mothership that it is allowed to run'. Pure Bliss.

    I do research, email etc on a macbook Pro (the one being used to write this post). When I don't need it, the lid gets closed.
    The writing machine gets no alerts, adverts and interruptions. I can take it with me to my woodland cabin (no 3G/4G there) and not fret about lack of internet. 
    Perhaps we are all getting addicted to being online all the time. Take a day off a week and see how your life can change.
    And yes, I'm not one of those people who has their phone glued to one hand and spends every minute possible on Social Media. TBH, I'd rather watch paint dry. At least doing that, I can dream up plots for my books.
    king editor the gratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 34
    It's all marketing I guess, but I really, really don't think Apple is currently in a position to throw mud.
    muthuk_vanalingamrogifan_new
  • Reply 20 of 34
    So perhaps Phil’s right, but he just comes across as bitter and arrogant. Try telling a cash-strapped school that they’re essentially failing their students because they went with the lower cost Chromebook. What a way to alienate your market. 
    muthuk_vanalingamrogifan_new
Sign In or Register to comment.