Chromebook sales to soar in 2015 as tablets take a tumble

Worldwide Chromebook sales on pace to reach 7.3m units in 2015; Acer enjoys top spot
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Worldwide Chromebook sales to end users will reach 7.3 million units in 2015, a 27 per cent increase from 2014, according to Gartner.

Education is the primary market for Chromebooks and represented 72 per cent of the global Chromebook market in 2014.

The news comes as the tablet market takes a hit, with tablet and 2-in-1 shipments in Central and Eastern Europe declining 20 per cent year-on-year during the first quarter of 2015, according to data from IDC. At PCR Boot Camp last week, GfK also revealed that UK tablet sales were down 28 per cent in volume and 38 per cent in value during Q1 2015.

In terms of the top-selling Chromebook vendors, after Samsung's decision to exit the European Chromebook market and focus on tablets, Acer took the lead to become the number one worldwide Chromebook vendor in 2014. It sold more than two million units in 2014, with Samsung selling 1.7 million units and HP selling one million units.

From a regional perspective, 84 per cent of Chromebooks were sold in North America in 2014, with the US market the largest single market in 2014. EMEA, which represented 11 per cent of total sales of Chromebooks in 2014, is the secondary focus for vendors with Western Europe as the primary target.

In Asia/Pacific the Chromebook market represented less than three per cent in 2014, with demand coming from Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

"Since the first model launched in mid-2011, Google's Chromebook has seen success mainly in the education segment across all regions," said Isabelle Durand, principal analyst at Gartner.

"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.

"The major factors that affect the adoption of Chromebooks by consumers remain the connectivity issue in emerging markets, but also the ability for users to understand and get used to cloud-based applications, and keep content in the cloud and ecosystem."

Gartner added that Google has to improve brand awareness with Chromebooks, however, especially outside the US market, "where consumers who may be familiar with apps such as Google Docs do not know what a Chromebook is and what value it may bring".

In the business segment, Gartner says that sales of Chromebooks remain low, despite interest from SMBs and vertical industries. Google is increasingly targeting the business segment with its Chromebook for Work suite of office applications.

"Chromebook is a device that can be considered by SMBs or new startup companies that do not have the resources to invest too much in IT infrastructure," said 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."

Chromebooks are mobile computing devices from a range of manufacturers that run Google's Chrome OS, designed mainly to access cloud services, cloud storage and web-based applications. 

Chromebook Sales Market Share by Segment and Region, 2014 (per cent)

Region

Education

Other Business

Consumer

APAC

68.8

16.5

14.7

EMEA

72.3

0.9

26.8

U.S.

60.3

1.1

38.6

Chromebook Unit Shipments, By Region, 2014-2016 (in the thousands)

Region

2014

2015

2016

North America

4,820

6,020

6,177

Latin America

142

178

224

EMEA

620

866

1,276

APAC including Japan

146

225

276

Total

5,728

7,288

7,953

Source: Gartner (May 2015)

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