As users of Wave and Reader know, not all Google products pan out. Soon, Google Play for Education will be added to the list of discontinued services.
CRN first reported that the Google will “cease selling Play for Education licenses to partner tablet vendors” after March 14. The company confirmed with EdSurge that it will no longer offer licenses to Google Play for Education (GPFE) after that date.
GPFE is a slimmed-down version of the Play Store for curated education apps. Current tablet and Chromebook education users who have access to GPFE will continue to do so until those devices stop working.
It’s not clear if Google is working on a replacement for GPFE. The company tells EdSurge that all the apps currently on GPFE are also available on the main Google Play store. Some of Google’s Enterprise Mobility Management partners will offer their own tools to help teachers find and purchase educational apps.
First launched in the U.S. in November 2013, Play for Education was pitched as a perk to drive sales of Android tablets in the education market. Tablets that came pre-installed with GPFE offered teachers ability to search, review, purchase and deploy apps to students’ tablets in seamless fashion.
At that time, tablets—specifically, iPads—were the device of choice for many schools. The Chromebook was still a nascent player in the device market; one analyst called it a “pretty spectacular flop” after it accounted for just one percent of devices shipped in Q3 2013. Two years later, however, Chromebooks account for over half of all K-12 devices sold in the US in Q3 2015.
Chromebooks’ surge in popularity may be one reason why Google is backing away from pushing tablets into the education market. The company currently offers 2-in-1 “Flipbooks” that offer both a keyboard and touchscreen.