From the outside, it seems that the i Pad’s success in education was something of a happy coincidence for Apple.

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“You could get 20 or 30 [computers] for the school, but you couldn’t get one for every student,” IDC analysts Linn Huang tells Tech Crunch.

“And then netbooks came around and blew up in education.

But while education wasn’t the primary focus in the launch of the first i Pad, the potential for the devices as part of classroom curriculum came into sharp focus as the limitations of netbooks became painfully clear.

i Pads offered a premium hardware experience, and with a starting price of $499 retail, they weren’t exactly cheap, but were certainly comparable to some netbooks.

When it launched half a decade ago, the category was broadly maligned for its limited feature set, middling hardware specs and operation that required an always-on internet connection to work properly. And that victory has been largely fueled by the K-12 education market. Windows is in second with around 22 percent and the combined impact of Mac OS and i OS are close behind at 19 percent. Three years earlier, Apple’s products represented nearly half of devices being shipped to U. Last month, Apple released a newly refreshed version of its Classroom app, coupled with its lowest priced i Pad ever.

It’s a pretty astonishing number for a product many pundits deemed doomed in its early stages. Now some of the biggest players in technology are poised to make a new push into education.Steve Jobs saw the wide-ranging potential of the school market early on.Two years after Apple was founded, it scored a contract to bring 500 computers to Minnesota schools.A lot of the reason is because this was the first time we put affordable hardware in front of buyers.” When they arrived on the scene in 2007, netbooks were a breakthrough technology; they were rugged, light and, most importantly, affordable, a perfect combination of traits for cash-strapped school districts.They were also an important driver in the growing early 21 century drive to make technology in K-12 classrooms a more one-on-one experience.We wanted to donate a computer to every school in America.” Both Apple and Microsoft flourished in the computer lab models.