ASUS Chromebook C201

Gartner today released the results of a report finding that Chromebooks in 2015 have continued to see double-digit year-over-year growth for Google with education still as the primary market for browser-based computers. 7.3 million Chromebook units are expected to be sold in 2015, a 27 percent increase over 2014, while 72 percent of those sales are expected to be from the education sector.

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In the above chart breaking down Chromebook sales for 2014 by region and segment, you can see education held the lion’s share in all the major markets Google sells to, with consumer sales coming in second, and sales to the business segment trailing far behind – save for in Asia Pacific, where those latter two are reversed.

Despite interest among SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses), the Chromebook’s entrance into the business market has been slow coming. Gartner believes, however, that Google’s increased investment of resources and marketing into the Chromebook for Work suite of applications – Drive, Google Apps for Business, etc – combined with many small businesses’ lack of significant resources to invest in IT, will stoke increased sales to the workplace.

“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,” said Isabelle Durand, a principal analyst at Gartner.

Among consumers, Gartner found that while many may be familiar with Google’s online suite of productivity applications, like Drive and Gmail, they’re not yet too familiar with the Chromebook brand, especially outside of the United States. Among those consumers who are familiar with Chromebook laptops, connectivity and the idea of using all cloud-based applications, storing content in the cloud, and being all-in on Google’s ecosystem are significant barriers to adoption. They believe the majority of consumers purchasing Chromebooks are tech-savvy, typically buying one as a throwaway computer for the home.

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Finally, the research firm broke down marketshare of the Chromebook by region and OEM (original equipment manufacturer). In 2014, 84 percent of Chromebooks were sold in North America, 11 percent in EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa), and less than 3 percent in Asia/Pacific. Acer was the number one worldwide vendor of Chromebooks, selling more than 2 million units in 2014, followed by Samsung with 1.7 million units, and HP following in third place at about 1 million units sold.

It should be no surprise to anyone that the majority of Chromebooks are still selling tremendously well into schools – the free, lightweight operating system can be powered by years-old hardware and Google has been working on web-based productivity applications ever since it launched Gmail over 10 years ago.

They’re cheap, but without necessarily compromising on speed and ability for most of the things K-12 students need to do. And while I don’t see business customers being as much of an easy sell, new web applications from companies like Citrix now make it possible to use a virtualized, web-hosted instance of Microsoft Windows right from your Chromebook, so who knows what may be possible going forward.

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