Chromebook sales up by 275%
Despite production shortages, the global PC market grew for the fourth quarter in a row. Shipments saw a year-over-year (YOY) growth of 53.1% in the first quarter of 2021, reaching 122.1 million units. The number of Chromebooks sold increased dramatically by 274.6%, totaling 12 million units.
This information comes from Canalys, a Singapore-based research firm that recently published its latest report on the global PC market.
The worldwide rise in personal computer sales is attributed to the implementation of work-from-at-home policies and remote schooling.
In the first quarter of 2021, Chromebooks sold in record numbers, with HP, Lenovo, Acer, Samsung, and Dell as the top five vendors. HP, in particular, has a 36.4% share of the Chromebook market, nearly doubling its share from a year ago.
Although the education sector continues to make up the majority of Chromebook shipments, their popularity among consumers and conventional commercial customers has soared over the past year.
The Chromebook is a low-powered but inexpensive alternative that runs primarily on web apps, making it a popular choice for consumers who need to switch to remote work quickly. We’re also beginning to see a few higher-end Chromebooks with prices that are comparable to Windows laptops.
Chromebooks outsold Macs for the first time last year, cutting into Windows market share, which fell by 4.9 points, from 85.4% in 2019 to 80.5% in 2020.
Canalys has published data on the tablet market. Samsung, Lenovo, and Amazon all reported growth, with Amazon’s tablet shipments increasing by 197.9% in the last year. Apple has lost a little ground going from 38.6% market share in the first quarter of 2020 to 38.2% in 2021. However, it still ships almost twice as many tablets as its closest rival.
Well after the typically busy holiday season, vendors are reporting increased demand since the need for low-cost computing capacity and connectivity continues. As the PC market is experiencing a supply shortage, vendors with good tablet offers were able to generate greater profit from some of the changes prompted by the pandemic.
Because of Huawei’s decision to spin off its Honor brand into a separate company in response to U.S. sanctions, it has been losing ground in the tablet market and reports a 6% drop.
In contrast, the desktop PC market has declined by 4% over the past two years, though it did rise slightly in 2020. It would be easy to blame the sales decline on the global chip shortage that has been impacting electronics manufacturing since early last year, but according to Canalys figures, the downturn began in Q4 of 2019. Other analysts attribute this decline to advancements in other technologies like smartphones and cloud solutions.
How Chromebook went mainstream
When Chromebooks were released on the market ten years ago, on the 11th of May 2021, expectations were not exactly high. They were following the Netbook age when affordable low-power laptops were hailed as a magic bullet for overly expensive technology and ended up disappointing consumers after overselling their limited capabilities. Understandably, people were skeptical about a personal computer platform that appeared to be even more limited.
To most tech enthusiasts, ChromeOS didn’t sound like a very impressive operating system – more like the same Chrome web browser we’re all familiar with, boxed with a screen and keyboard.
A decade later, Google’s concept is thriving despite some security issues you can read more about on TechShielder. It helped employees and students stay connected while they were stuck at home because of social distancing measures. It seems that Chromebook was simply ahead of its time, and we only understood its full potential during the pandemic.
The first Chromebook models were announced in San Francisco at the Google I/O conference and included models from Samsung and Acer at prices between $350 and $450.
During that time, even though most people used their laptops for basic functions like web browsing, watching videos, scrolling through their social media feed, sending email, and shopping online, they tended to buy devices more powerful than they needed. Granted, back then there were fewer cloud-based solutions, so operating entirely on a web browser was a tough sell.
Nowadays, Chromebooks and iPads are battling over the same market share offering similar prices. Chromebooks have become more similar to iPads and added access to the Google Play store. On the other hand, iPads have become more similar to laptops adding features like touchpad and mouse support.
In the early years, as Chromebooks were starting to gain some traction, the ChromeOS was seen as promising but not quite up to the task of becoming a full-time operating system. It was OK as a second device for basic functions.
In 2017, the Samsung Chromebook Pro was launched at $550, and it could outperform Windows laptops in its class. It offered good design, long battery life, a hybrid hinge that could turn it into a tablet, better than HD touchscreen, a built-in stylus, and lag-free performance.
The forward-looking 3:2 aspect ratio display certainly helped with sales, but what really pushed it from niche to mainstream was the ability to run Android apps.
And then came March of 2020. Schools and workplaces had to close, and we all moved our lives online as much as possible. This means that families who used to share devices suddenly needed one per person since the parents had to work remotely and the kids needed it for school. Affordable Chromebooks were the perfect solution: low-cost PCs that you could use to run online tools like Zoom and Google Classroom, which were common in offices and schools.
The Chromebook has been praised as an excellent tool for students and remote work throughout the pandemic, with many tech reviewers regarding it as their default recommendation. It seems the pandemic has made us reconsider what we really need from our computers, and people realized that all these years, they were buying devices that were above and beyond their daily activities.
If you’re interested in trying one yourself, Samsung and Acer are still big names, as you could see from the data provided by Canalys, but you can find many models from various manufactures in all sizes, shapes, and styles – there’s something to fit all tastes and needs.
Mustafa Al Mahmud is the Founder and CEO of Gizmo Concept and also a professional Blogger, SEO Professional as well as Entrepreneur. He loves to travel and enjoy his free moment with family members and friends.