Google Chromebook

Chromebooks an education hit, but what of business?

(Image: Google)

22 May 2015

The education sector in the US, and increasingly in Europe, is buying an awful lot of Chromebooks, Gartner reckons with global sales predicted to reach 7.3 million by the end of 2015.

The sales spike charted by Gartner based on units going into the channel is consistent with a March estimate by ABI Research that put the sales to that point at around five million.

Although either figure looks small compared to global PC sales, what matters is the direct comparison based on geography as well as annual growth rates, which Gartner believes will be around 27% comparing 2014 to 2015.

Chromebooks also aren’t yet sold everywhere and to everyone. In the US, Gartner believes that 60% of 2014’s US sales were to the education sector. In Asia and EMEA, the dominance of education was even greater at 69% and 72% respectively.

Despite this, the Chromebook is becoming more popular among consumers with businesses starting to take the platform seriously. In Asia, businesses account for 16.5% of Chromebook sales although the figures for the US and EMEA remains in very low single digit percentages.

“Chromebook is a device that can be considered by SMBs or new start-up companies that do not have the resources to invest too much in IT infrastructure,” said Gartner’s principal analyst, Isabelle Durand.

“Chromebooks will become a valid device choice for employees as enterprises seek to provide simple, secure, low-cost and easy-to-manage access to new web applications and legacy systems, unless a specific application forces a Windows decision.”

In the consumer space, Chromebook sales will continue a steady and unspectacular growth rate but the take-up by businesses will depend a lot on the tools Google and its partners can bring to market. This, after all, is the year of Windows 10, which looks set to vastly improve the platform’s fortunes after the near disaster of the sclerotic Windows 8.

Ironically, despite the simplicity of Chromebooks, not to mention their hugely superior security compared to any Windows machine, they remain a popular device for the very people who are experts at coping with complexity – techies.

“The majority of Chromebook users are tech-savvy individuals who purchase one as a companion device to their primary notebook or desktop PC. Others are buying a Chromebook for the household to use as a second low-cost PC alternative,” said Durand.

Connectivity would have to improve for the fortunes of the platform to improve in Asia, in particular.

What Gartner’s figures do confirm for almost the first time is that the US is by a big margin the number one market for Chromebooks, accounting for 84% of all sales. EMEA is second with 11%, with Asia/Pacific another 3%.

The largest Chromebook vendor by sales is now Acer at around two million units, with Samsung, and HP following close behind in that order.



John E Dunn, IDG News Service

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