Back-to-school season kicks off this week, but laptops are sold out
Looking at the challenges of distance learning as the pandemic rolls on, and this week is kind of the official back to school kickoff for families and school districts getting ready for school has meant scrambling to find laptops kids to use at home, and there is a major shortage of low-cost laptops like chromebooks. It's a combination of the trade war with China and supply chains that have been disrupted by the pandemic but with millions of students starting school without the tech, they need to learn at home an education system that was already unequal is even more. So Jay Ganders, an analyst at Forrester. Here's for now it has been a case of delays especially for educational institutions right who have been told in some cases that they were going to receive models. And we're talking about thousands of laptops. By the beginning of the school at home period, and now they're saying, well, you may not get these until later in the school year and that's very problematic if the school district is expecting to supply the laptops to their students because then you're kind of stuck with what you have at home and not all students can afford or have access to a computer, and so when do we think this shortage might end if at all wonders? Well, what will happen next year you know is, is it? Going to go back and return to normal levels. So I think there's GonNa be trouble on the horizon as the companies that produce this try to reevaluate their Chinese supply chain can they relocate to other places or will there be new administration? For example, that makes that easier figuring out what they expect for demand what the budgets look like for schools there's so many variables at play and I would just say much like with toilet paper, right it was took some time to sort out the supply chain. A much more complicated supply chain well, and I want to get back to this idea of future demand because if we really do see a scenario where education changes in the long term. Then, all of a sudden schools become an even bigger market for portable devices. Right? Then they have been before. I. Think that's right. I mean I think The the proliferation of these devices on an individual basis for every child is not universal. We have a lot of classrooms where students actually share devices, which makes sense but when you have to send them home with the child, then that becomes a larger market. A. Lot depends on the course of the pandemic and how safety goes and how the numbers look, and of course, I'm not an epidemiologist. So I won't even try to figure that out. But let's say if we're persisting in a high state of pandemic. It means that there would be increased demand even into next year for new laptops because the schools simply don't have individual devices for every student, we've sort of honed in on laptops for the purposes of this conversation. If we start to see sort of like permanent remote become a reality will other form factors all in one PC's or just even desktops start to make a return. I think they could. Part of the issue though is that our houses have been filled with lots of remote people, right? So maybe parents. Maybe. Grandparents others simply a surplus of people in the household, and that means that a laptop has the advantage of flexibility being able to move to a different room I. Know a lot of the business meetings I have. You'll see someone's bed at background because they've been sort of banished to a bedroom. And the other problem here is that schools aren't going to be providing something like a desktop, right they need to provide something that's all in one very reportable and very easy. To use. Getting back to this idea of the inequality and that you know lower income students who can't afford a more expensive last because that might be available are being left out. What are the other devices if any are are filling the void? SMARTPHONES can fill part of the GAP certainly in Asia, we find a lot going on in this space where Chinese school children will get certain lessons over mobile. You can certainly do a zoom meeting over a mobile phone so you could participate in the classroom creation of content however, as opposed to consumption is going to be more challenging on a phone. There are schools that use tablets particularly ipads, but they will then require in cases for older kids an external keyboard and a stand, and that sort of thing. So the economics are not that easy. The bottom line is I think. For children who have less income in their families. The schools need to try to equip them with everything that they need on a turnkey basis.