If you think Google Chromebooks are a joke, as Microsoft would have you believe, think again. A new report by ABI Research finds the number of Chromebooks shipped in 2013 topped 2.1 million.
More significantly, ABI projects Chromebook sales to top 11 million in five years. Given the decline in WinTel PCs and Apple MacBooks, the Chromebook model could represent four per cent of total personal computer sales. Some analysts say that Chromebooks already hold 10 per cent of notebook sales.
Google partnered with Samsung and Acer in 2011 to develop the first Chromebooks, which are low-cost notebook computers that run on the Chrome operating system and leverage Google's cloud-based applications. In the last 18 months, other PC manufacturers, including Lenovo, Dell and HP, have released Chromebooks.
Market research firm NPD reported that Chromebook sales jumped nearly 300 per cent in 2013, with units shipped skyrocketing from 400,000 in 2012 to 1.76 million in 2013.
The brisk Chromebook sales have surprised manufacturers and resellers. Samsung reported selling one million Chromebooks last year, mostly in the US to the education segment. HP CEO Meg Whitman said the growing demand for Chromebooks is evidence that there is room in the market for multiple operating systems.
The question is whether solution providers should jump on the Chromebook bandwagon.
While Chromebook represents only a fraction of the Windows install base, Microsoft is still taking no chances when it comes to Chromebook. It obviously saw the growing demand early when it launched its "Scroogled" marketing campaign to discrete the Chromebook as "not a PC." Yet, despite its efforts, Microsoft hasn't been able to blunt Chromebook's progress.
Chromebook is doing exceedingly well in the education segment, where it's mostly displacing Apple. For decades, the easy-to-use Apple platform has been the mainstay of computers in the classroom. The drawback: cost.
Chromebooks are increasingly popular among school systems, a segment where solution providers play well, because of their lower cost, ease of use and easy replacement.
Surprisingly, though, Chromebooks are increasingly popular among business users, too. Vendors and solution providers report business users are looking at Chromebooks because of their relative costs to usability.
Chromebooks have a long way to go before they become a significant threat to either Microsoft or Apple. However, the web-based devices are fast becoming an essential product for PC resellers to have in their portfolio.
As part of our special editorial partnership, CRN is publishing this article from Channelnomics.
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