Since we published this update, Google has committed to extend the life of Chromebooks! Learn more about the victory here.
As of yesterday, 13 different Chromebook models lost security support this summer, despite our June letter from parents and environmentalists that asked Google to extend their “death dates” in order to support students and prevent e-waste. It’s not as if these computers are particularly old: Eight of these models are still available for purchase on Amazon, with two of the laptops listed as “new,” and five eligible for Amazon Prime shipping.
We should know if the Chromebook in our cart has expired
It’s easy for an unsuspecting shopper to buy these laptops without any indication they will no longer receive support. Now past their expiration, these laptops won’t receive updates from Google. This lack of support could render them vulnerable to attacks and unable to access secure state testing websites.
Parents and teachers buying back-to-school laptops don’t expect devices to have a “death date,” and sellers don’t advertise the lack of support. It’s absurd that a new laptop, with all the features students need to do basic school work, is already unsupported.
13 Chromebook models expired this summer
Amazon should clearly indicate the Automatic Update Expiration (AUE) date on listings for Chromebooks to provide us with necessary information. We wouldn’t have this issue in the first place if Google extended support for the recently expired models named by parents.
Parents and teachers asked Google to keep these laptops working
Parents, teachers, and PTAs joined other signers in the June 20 letter warning that, “In the United States, we generate about 6.9 million tons of e-waste each year which is equivalent to throwing out 120 Chromebooks every second. We can’t afford to keep replacing technology at this rate. Google has the power to lead the industry towards a circular economy with longer lasting laptops.”
My April report, “Chromebook Churn,” found many schools purchased the laptops when they switched to remote learning due to the pandemic. It found schools could save $1.8 billion if Google were to double the life of Chromebooks, assuming no additional maintenance costs. Beyond the added financial burden on already-strapped school districts, the environmental costs of these short-lived laptops are concerning.
Schools are stuck with piles of expired Chromebooks
Reporting by Mercury News recently found, “over the next five years, Oakland Unified estimates 40,000 of its Chromebooks will expire.”
The solution is simple. Google should restore updates to these laptops that still work. They should also act to extend support for the 51 models expiring next summer to save schools money and prevent e-waste.