Last month, we learned that Chromebook shipments grew over 4x amid the pandemic and shift to distance learning. That demand in 2020 has led Chrome OS to overtake macOS in worldwide sales.

According to IDC 2020 figures (via GeekWire) for desktops, laptops, and workstations, Chrome OS surpassed macOS in worldwide sales. The Google operating system overtook (which has occurred before in the past) Apple’s in Q2 at 10% to 7.6%. However, Chrome OS continued growing over the next two quarters — 11.5% for Q3 and 14.4% in Q4 — to maintain the number-two spot.

The Mac started at 5.8% in Q1 and peaked at 8.4% in the third quarter before receding to 7.7% in the final three months. Meanwhile, Windows sales declined from 87.5% at the start of the year to 76.7% in Q4.

IDC’s YoY breakdown has Chrome OS up 4.4 points to 10.8%, while macOS ended at 7.5% and Windows 80.5%. That said, StatCounter reports worldwide desktop operating systems (as of January 2021) still have the Mac leading at 16.91% versus 1.91% for Chrome OS.

Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
Windows 87.5% 81.7% 78.9% 76.7%
Chrome OS 5.3% 10.0% 11.5% 14.4%
macOS 5.8% 7.6% 8.4% 7.7%
IDC

The recent demand for affordable computers, especially in education, greatly benefits Chromebooks. Back at its September event, Apple said the new iPad Air was six times faster than the top-selling Chromebook. The mobile/tablet to desktop OS comparison is somewhat odd even before factoring how an iPad setup requires the purchase of an additional keyboard accessory. Regardless of iPad or Mac, Apple still has a price premium during a period when people are looking for the cheapest option.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is well aware of the Chrome OS threat and readying Windows 10X. A leaked build of that upcoming OS last month revealed a design, user experience, and approach that’s very similar to Google’s operating system. The OS, originally for dual-screen devices before a telling pivot, is expected to launch in the spring and target education, as well as business customers.

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