Worldwide Chromebook* sales to end users is on pace to reach 7.3 million units in 2015, a 27 percent increase from 2014, according to Gartner, Inc. Education is the primary market for Chromebooks and represented 72 percent of the global Chromebook market in 2014.
"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. "In 2014, the education sector purchased 72 percent of Chromebooks in EMEA, 69 percent in Asia/Pacific, and 60 percent in the U.S. (see Table 1).”
Table 1. Chromebook Sales Market Share by Segment and Region, 2014 (Percent)
Source: Gartner (May 2015)
In the business segment, purchases of Chromebooks remain low despite interest from small and midsize businesses (SMBs) and vertical industries. Google is increasingly targeting the business segment with its Chromebook for Work suite of office applications and has continuously improved access and functions by making more applications and services available offline.
"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 Ms. 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."
Google is gaining credibility and seeing success with Chromebooks in the consumer retail space, but has to improve brand awareness, especially outside the U.S. 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.
"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," said Ms. Durand.
"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," said Ms. Durand.
From a regional perspective, 84 percent of Chromebooks were sold in North America in 2014, with the U.S. market the largest single market in 2014 (see Table 2). EMEA, which represented 11 percent 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 3 percent in 2014, with demand coming from Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
Table 2. Chromebook Unit Shipments, By Region, 2014-2016 (Thousands)
APAC including Japan
Source: Gartner (May 2015)
After Samsung's decision to exit the European Chromebook market and focus on tablets, Acer took the lead to become the No. 1 worldwide Chromebook vendor in 2014. Acer sold more than 2 million units in 2014. Samsung held the No. 2 position with 1.7 million units sold in 2014 and HP, a late entrant to the market, was ranked No. 3, with 1 million units, thanks to its strong connection with education partners.
Chromebooks are mobile computing devices from a range of manufacturers that run Google's Chrome OS. They are designed primarily to access cloud services, cloud storage (typically Google's offerings) and Web-based applications. All applications are accessed or downloaded from the Google Chrome Web Store (an Internet connection is required, or at least highly preferred).
Further information is available in the Gartner report "Education Is the Primary Opportunity for Chromebooks."