Chromebook sales to 'nearly triple' by 2017
As PC growth stalls, Chromebook sales to reach 14.4m units by 2017, says Gartner
Sales of Chromebooks are set to nearly triple by 2017, as growth in the global PC market levels out and vendors search for new areas of growth, according to Gartner.
As it released new projections for the Chromebook market, Gartner said that many vendors were looking to rejuvenate the sub-$300 laptop category, which was dominated by netbooks before consumers lost confidence in that segment.
The research house predicted that sales of Chromebooks - which run Google's Chrome operating system - will reach 5.2m units in 2014, a 79% increase from 2013. By 2017, Gartner said that Chromebook sales would nearly triple to 14.4m units.
"Competition in the Chromebook market is intensifying as more vendors launch Chromebooks, with eight models in the market in 2014," said Isabelle Durand, principal analyst at Gartner.
"Now that the PC market is no longer growing strongly, vendors are searching for new business opportunities. They launched Chromebooks to revive interest in sub-$300 portable PCs once the netbook bubble had burst."
At the moment, Gartner said that demand for Chromebooks is mainly driven by the education sector, which accounted for nearly 85% of Chromebook sales in 2013. However, the research house noted that Chromebooks will also have a place in businesses for specific workers, such as staff in banking, financial services, estate agents and hotel receptionists.
"So far, businesses have looked at Chromebooks, but not bought many," said Durand.
"By adopting Chromebooks and cloud computing, businesses can benefit; they can shift their focus from managing devices to managing something much more important - their data."
As more users work collaboratively in the cloud, Gartner said that collaborative working practices are likely to become more common, which may further increase the appeal of Chromebooks and similar devices.
That said, Gartner admitted that Chromebooks will remain a niche market during the next five years. To reach a wider audience, vendors need to offer better features that address cloud-based usage patterns: faster connectivity, faster memory access, faster and larger solid-state drives, and strong user support in the education, business and consumer segments.
"Making a competitive Chromebook is not just a matter of hardware and price; what is most important is to show how the device's cloud-based architecture provides genuine advantages to users," said Durand.