Despite Samsung taking a decision to exit the European Chromebook market and focus on tablets, they were still the second highest global Chromebook manufacturer in 2014, clocking up 1.7 million units. However, according to Gartner, this puts them at the number two spot behind Acer’s 2.0 million units. HP is showing as the third most popular Chromebook manufacturer in third place with 1.0 million units. Chromebook sales are expected to grow by 27% in 2015 to reach 7.3 million units. Let’s take a look at where these Chromebooks are going and what’s driving the sales growth.
The short and simple answer appears to be education. in fact, over seven out of every ten Chromebooks sold in 2014 were destined for the education market. Schools are looking for an inexpensive, easy to maintain device with a keyboard are often buying the Chromebook in preference to the Apple iPad with a keyboard dock as the unit price is significantly cheaper, which saves the school millions of dollars in hardware costs. And the remaining Chromebooks are mostly being bought by the consumer market and currently there is very little exposure in the corporate market. We know that Google is working on increasing exposure in the corporate market, where the Chromebook has real strengths especially for those businesses adopting Google for Work platforms. By Google for Work, this means utilising Google’s existing infrastructure to allow employees access to Drive, Gmail, Keep and other Google services. Gartner’s principal analyst, Isabelle Durand, said this about the matter: “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.”
We have seen how Google has increasingly aligned various underlying products with this ideal. We’ve seen structural improvements to Google Docs (and Sheets, Slide) in order to improve compatibility with Microsoft Office. Google wants to make working with Office documents as transparent as it is working with Google document formats. And whilst there is customer awareness of Google Docs, it seems that many people are not aware of how the Chromebook can help them access their documents. The majority of consumers buying a Chromebook are either tech-savvy individuals buying it as a companion device to their primary notebook or desktop PC, or are buying a Chromebook for the household to use as a second and low cost computer. Google will need to see the emergence of a new breed of Chromebook customers, buying the computer for use as a primary working device. There is still a steep skew towards the North American market too, as 84% of Chromebooks were sold into this area. We have seen significant growth in the Chromebook market but it appears that Google’s other mobile operating system has only just started rolling.