Although there is a lot of buzz about Chromebooks – computers running Google’s Chrome operating system – actual sales of such systems are pretty low and will remain on that level going forward, according to Gartner. While shipments of Chromebooks do grow fast, the success of Chrome cannot be compared to that of Google Android OS.
The analysts from Gartner believe that sales of Chromebooks will reach 5.2 million units in 2014, a 79 per cent increase from 2013. By 2017, sales of Chromebooks are set to nearly triple to reach 14.4 million units. Demand for Chromebooks is mainly driven by the education segment in the U.S. In fact, 85 per cent of Chromebooks sold in 2013 were used for education purposes. Gartner assumes that Chromebooks could be used by businesses too. For example, specific workers, such as staff in banking, financial services, estate agents and hotel receptionists could use Chromebooks.
“So far, businesses have looked at Chromebooks, but not bought many,” said Isabelle Durand, principal analyst at Gartner. “By adopting Chromebooks and cloud computing, businesses can benefit; they can shift their focus from managing devices to managing something much more important — their data.”
PC makers get more interested in Chromebooks as well. Gartner reminds that in 2011 only two vendors – Acer and Samsung – offered Chromebooks. Nowadays such PCs are offered by all top PC makers, including Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Samsung.
Chromebooks will remain a niche market during the next five years. To reach a broader audience, PC makers need to offer better features that address cloud-based usage patterns: faster connectivity, faster memory access, faster and larger solid-state drives, and strong user support in the education, business and consumer segments.
“Making a competitive Chromebook is not just a matter of hardware and price; what is most important is to show how the device’s cloud-based architecture provides genuine advantages to users,” said Ms. Durand.
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KitGuru Says: Keeping in mind that Microsoft is not standing still and offers very flexible pricing on its Windows operating system, many PC makers should be less inclined to use the Chrome OS for their systems. As a result, it remains to be seen whether the total available market of Chromebooks will indeed reach 14.4 million units in 2017.