back to article Chromebooks now the fastest-growing segment of PC market

Not only are Google's Chromebooks a success, but they are now the fastest-growing segment of the PC industry, according to market research firm NPD Group. "While we were skeptical initially, I think Chromebooks definitely have found a niche in the marketplace," NPD analyst Stephen Baker told Bloomberg. Baker says that in the …


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  1. Nya

    Statistics, and damned statistics!

    Selling two this quarter to the one last quarter and posting the growth in sales doesn't make it really that successful. Even if on paper it is the highest growing area of PC sales :P

    1. Matt Piechota

      Re: Statistics, and damned statistics!

      Perhaps you should read the article:

      "Baker says that in the past eight months, Google's browser-based devices have managed to capture 20 to 25 per cent of the US market for laptops that cost less than $300."

      1. Simon Harris

        Re: Statistics, and damned statistics!

        ... but what percentage of laptops overall cost less than $300 ?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          ... but what percentage of laptops overall cost less than $300 ?

          A growing percentage I'd imagine as the lower end of the price bracket is delivering more and more performance.

          People have started to realise that after spending $500-1000 on a laptop they've ended up with something that's actually fairly large, cumbersome and very power hungry.

          Some of the chromebooks are coming in at close to 1Kg and under 20mm thick.

          Thats tablet like portability, with a normal keyboard and mouse to actually do something with.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Laptops that cost less than $300

        So mainly they replaced the Netbook segment (with Pixel being the outlier for a high quality Chromebook)

        The statement the title of the article makes is as silly as saying that "tablets are now the fastest growing segment of the PC market" which they could have said last year at this time. Tablets don't do everything a PC does, and Chromebooks don't do everything a PC does (mainly due to the lack of Windows, which the average person associates as being part and parcel of being a PC, however incorrect that belief actually is)

        I imagine that at some point Windows Phone was the fastest growing smartphone OS, since it started at such a low bar. Ditto BB10. When Samsung finally releases a Tizen phone it'll hold that crown for a time, however briefly.

      3. Mark .

        Re: Statistics, and damned statistics!

        Is that all? I wasn't aware it was possible to buy laptops less than $300 - maybe things are cheaper in the US market, but here with the demise of Linux or Windows Starter based netbooks, the bottom end seems to be at least £250. What makes up the remaining 75%?

        It's still more lies and statistics - "25%" tells us nothing, what are the actual numbers? How does that number compare to say, Windows 8 PCs, which all and sundry have claimed are a failure, and that "PCs are dying"?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Statistics, and damned statistics!

      Not in the real world.

      I know a few who use OSX, a large number who use Windows and a couple that use Linux.

      No one I know has a Chromebook.

      Maybe it's a city thing, but out here it would be pointless.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Statistics, and damned statistics!

      @Nya - "Selling two this quarter to the one last quarter and posting the growth in sales doesn't make it really that successful."

      Seems a rather stupid comment, given that the point of the article was that the Chromebook is outselling other low-priced computers, and that it's been an Amazon bestseller for quite a long time now.

      1. Frankee Llonnygog

        Re: Statistics, and damned statistics!

        So, how many have been sold then?

    4. Mark .

      XKCD on "fastest growing"

      Exactly -

      (It's sad people mod you down just because they don't like the facts. I wish there was more choice in the market, especially for low cost laptops rather than oversized-phones, but that doesn't change the facts.)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Is that a surprise, I can't find much in the way of a laptop for £197.64 and net books have been out of fashion with manufacturers for yonks.

  3. xj25vm

    Marketing "research" BS

    "Not only are Google's Chromebooks a success, but they are now the fastest-growing segment of the PC industry, according to market research firm NPD Group."

    Oh yeah - I see - let's pay a "marketing research" company put a lovely spin on the Chromebook non-phenomenon. "Not only are Google's Chromebook a success" - really - what the f**k does that actually mean? Absolutely nothing, just BS spin. I can call myself a success, and I can call my goldfish a success - neither of the two statements don't actually mean anything - and can't be proven to be true or false.

    Oh - and in real life, I am yet to see one single Chromebook user. Maybe it's just the area I live in. El Reg - could we have a slightly more critical selection of article topics please - or at least a slightly more critical treatment of the subject matter - or are there enough kickbacks involved to ensure lack of realistic impartiality?

    1. Esskay

      Re: Marketing "research" BS

      I've a friend who recently bought one - although not as "useful" as a fully fledged PC, they do what they can do extremely well - if you're interested in something you just want to do youtube/email/web/a bit of doc writing on, and don't want to lug a big/valuable piece of hardware around (valuable in both the financial and data sense) it makes sense. It's like a tablet, but without the wank. Or the price. A niche product, perhaps, but cheap enough that many can see if they're in that niche without a lot of outlay - I've got more friends who have bought tablets for more than triple the price, and openly admit that half the time they don't even know where it is.

      I was also about to quote the same line that you quoted, for a somewhat similar reason - namely the idiocy of an analyst basically saying "before it launched we said it would tank, but now that it's selling well, we're predicting it's selling well". Being an analyst must be the most lenient job in the world, because even when you're stone-dead-wrong, you just have to "revise your outlook".

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Marketing "research" BS

      @xj25vm - "Oh - and in real life, I am yet to see one single Chromebook user"

      I've got one. Pretty nice little device - use it quite often. There's a nice new method for installing Ubuntu as a second desktop, accessible from the main Chromebook login via a simple keyboard shortcut - called "crouton". Makes it a bit more useful now since you can install LibreOffice and a full development environment and all the typical desktop Linux software.

  4. realtimecat

    Better than windows 8 for a laptop?

    I think the fact that Windows 8 has developed a GUI that is horrid, and the worst on a laptop with only a touchpad and keyboard are part of why this is happening.

    I've played with Windows 8 enough to know it is bad on a desktop, and nearly unuseable on a laptop with no mouse.

    The other choices are:

    1) Apple OS/X based laptops - too expensive a price of entry for many people.

    2) Linux (my personal choice going forward) - widely available and free, but not usually peddled off the retail shelf. Most linux desktops are easier to work with than the schizo Windows 8 interface and can easily be used with just a touchpad and keyboard.

    3) Chrome OS - now becoming widely available in retail outlets, low cost, low learning curve to use and fast responding on inexpensive hardware (due to the lightweight implementation). Operating system was designed with the netbook form factor in mind.

    The fact that a new (to the average consumer) operating system is gaining traction in the notebook market is a huge indicator of the failure of Microsoft to meet the needs of the average laptop owner with Windows 8. Everything I have read about 8.1 (or whatever the next upgrade will be called) leads me to believe that Microsoft has gotten too arrogant to recognize the true requirements and demands of the consumer.

    1. ThomH

      Re: Better than windows 8 for a laptop?

      As mentioned above, it's unclear what proportion of the market the sub-$300 bracket accounts for and therefore not technically clear that Chrome is gaining traction. It could easily be that there were basically no sub-$300 laptops and now there are some, but most of those on offer run Chrome.

      That being said, if you couple this with the statistic that more than 90% of laptops costing more than $1,000 sold are Macs it does start to look like Microsoft may be about to suffer a bit of a pincer movement.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Better than windows 8 for a laptop?

        I have one and it's fantastic for $200 - superlight, battery lasts all day, instant on and zero maintenance.

        For web browsing on the sofa or travel it's perfect. It replaced an HP netbook I had for travelling and a tablet for web browsing.

        For web stuff, like ranting on el'reg, a keybaord and a full size screen beat a tablet.

        I did install Ubuntu on it side:side but that's pretty pointless. If i need a Linux laptop I have a real Linux laptop. Compared to a $300 bottom of the range Wintel machine then for the stuff it's good at ( web/ email) there is no contest.

      2. Mark .

        Re: Better than windows 8 for a laptop?

        Actually I remember seeing those kinds of stats for Apple PCs years ago, so it's nothing new. It's just the same kind of misleading stat that we see for Chromebooks - it tells us little about the overall sales. Apple only do well there, because they're expensive.

    2. Mark .

      Re: Better than windows 8 for a laptop?

      "Windows 8 has developed a GUI that is horrid, and the worst on a laptop with only a touchpad and keyboard are part of why this is happening."

      Have you used it? Works just fine for me.

      Some people don't like the new start screen, but that's nothing to do with the "being only for touch" claim. I didn't like the Windows XP start menu, I guess that was only usable on a tablet too.

      "Apple OS/X based laptops - too expensive a price of entry for many people."

      And also, they don't have a hierarchical menu for launching programs AFAIK, and launch apps by clicking on a row of icons too. So if you don't like it in Windows 8, you won't like it in OS X either.

      "Most linux desktops are easier to work with than the schizo Windows 8 interface and can easily be used with just a touchpad and keyboard."

      I assume you aren't using Ubuntu then, which launches applications similar to Windows 8.

      "Operating system was designed with the netbook form factor in mind."

      Are there any Chromebooks that are 10" or less (which is what I'd say is the "netbook form factor")? They all seem physically like standard laptops, 11" to 14".

      "The fact that a new (to the average consumer) operating system is gaining traction in the notebook market is a huge indicator of the failure of Microsoft to meet the needs of the average laptop owner with Windows 8."

      100 million is a failure? If you say so. How many Chromebooks have sold?

      Don't get me wrong, I think a Chromebook is great for many people, and I think more choice is a good thing. But it's painful to see this kind of argument made.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Useless cheap junk

    They are useless pieces of junk.......they are just taking the place of the netbook. The only reason people are buying them is for the price! You get what you pay for and you can't do anything with them!

    1. Roger Greenwood

      Re: Useless cheap junk

      You seem to forget that the large majority of folk in this world are deeply uninterested in computers but have to have one for facetube/games etc.

      Traditional windows PC's and laptops appear to many to be complicated, expensive and unreliable (just turn it off and on again).

      Macs are often compared with a ferrari - gorgeous, slick, stupidly costly.

      Tablets don't have a keyboard so are only good for games.

      They all have a place, live and let live.

    2. Big_Ted

      Re: Useless cheap junk

      God what a dick head comment....

      No wonder you posted as AC. These are perfect for the majority of people as they can browse almost all sites, email, and do light document work. For older people and those less technical they are the answer as there is no problem with updates, installing software, sorting drivers etc. And id you get one with SSD it books so fast you blink and miss it.

      I have one for lugging round, add in a phone with a good data plan and you are covered for most if not all needs on the move.

      Don't forget not many actually want to edit a magazine, film or 200 page word file on the train......

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Useless cheap junk

      I work in IT, developing for the web, desktop and mobile. I have a Macbook Air and a Lenovo for Win8 plus Mint. I use both Windows Phone and Android (HTC One).

      Basically, I am reasonably platform-agostic.

      I also have a Samsung ARM-based Chromebook and, yes, it does less than the Air or Lenovo, but for 80% of what I need it is the perfect device.

      As for useless, it does offline word processing, I can develop for PhoneGap Build (with the Cloud 9 IDE) or watch Netflix, plus many HTML 5 sites and Chrome browser apps run offline-cached too (check the store; it's an eye-opener what's possible).

      Take off your blinkers, open your eyes and see what people's use cases are rather than just react from your own limited perspective. You are not the world.

    4. Nigel 11

      UseFUL cheap NOT junk

      Netbooks sold like hot cakes before Microsoft found ways to kill the format, because they were cheap enough and light enough to cart around without worrying yourself about theft or damage, and good enough to do most of what you wanted to do on the move.

      Microsoft killed the Netbook but the market niche never went away. Now the Chromebook is filling the niche. Quelle surprise. Another Microsoft own goal.

      BTW you can get cheap Android tablets for the same price and some of them are doubtless occupying the same niche. But for many purposes, you really do want a keyboard!

      1. Mark .

        Re: UseFUL cheap NOT junk

        I agree about the usefulness of netbooks, but in what way do you think MS killed netbooks?

        I mean sure, they have effectively killed the very cheapest end of laptops now by eliminating a starter edition of Windows 8. But there's nothing stopping manufacturers releasing Linux netbooks. Also there's nothing stopping manufacturers releasing netbooks that are still a bit more expensive, but still useful - I love my 10" netbook, and find it annoying that the choice now is 11" minimum, but I'm not sure how MS are to blame, not the manufacturers? Another problem is that whilst the low-cost good-battery-life Atom still exists, it doesn't seem to be available for pure laptops, and the hybrids are more expensive - again, that seems a hardware issue.

        I think it's more the way that ridiculous amounts of media hype for tablets and against netbooks, and the manufacturers thinking they can chase higher profits with tablets (though we're already seeing the race to the bottom with tablet prices). MS adapted to that, they didn't cause it.

        Netbooks also weren't helped by the fact that we had to stick with the same 1024x600 resolution and 1GB RAM spec for years. Sales stagnated because once everyone who wanted one had one, there was no reason to upgrade. The former spec is frustrating since we know the same manufacturers can put higher resolutions into tablets and phones without the price rocketing up. The latter is frustrating since all netbooks could take 2GB, and it's long been cheap to buy the extra memory. Both of these make a "full" PC OS like Windows or Linux far more usable. Possibly this was due to the way manufacturers like to play it safe and reduce prices (similar to the way that 1024x600 1GB RAM is now emerging as a standard among lost cost budget Android tablets), but again, that's not MS. Indeed, Windows 8 helped here by mandating a minimum resolution of 1366x768, to stop hardware manufacturers trying to cripple to hardware.

        1. Nigel 11

          Re: UseFUL cheap NOT junk

          Netbooks also weren't helped by the fact that we had to stick with the same 1024x600 resolution and 1GB RAM spec for years.

          That's part of how Microsoft killed them. It had to have that spec, or Microsoft wouldn't allow it to be sold with Windows XP (after XP stopped being generally available). I think SSDs were also banned by MS.

          Windows 7 was too much of a resource hog to run on less than 4Gb, and Atom CPUs were architecturally limited to 2Gb. So there was a period during which a Windows 7 Netbook was impossible - low-power i3 CPUs were too expensive. By the time the tech advanced at the low end (courtesy of AMD), Windows 8 was about to become the only retail chioce.

          I once (for fun) installed Win 7 on an Eee PC upgraded to 2Gb RAM and an SSD. It was usable, if a bit "sticky". Biggest problem was that the Win 7 UI really wants 1366x768 minimum.

  6. Fihart

    What's the catch ?

    I wonder how many Chromebooks are returned to retailers once the buyer realises how restricted they are.

    Remember stories of Linux netbooks (apparently) being returned because the buyer expected any computer to come with Windows.

    1. John Bailey

      Re: What's the catch ?

      Yep.. I also remember stories of them selling like hot cakes, even with Linux on them, and people returning the ones with Windows installed, because they found them too slow to use. And I remember Microsoft extending the sales cut-off of XP for net books.

      2007 called, and asked if it could have it's argument back.

      People are using Android and iOS in huge numbers, they have conclusively disproved the myth that people go into a catatonic state if they don't see a little blue e on a computing device. And Windows 8 definitively demonstrates the lack of need for continuity and familiarity does it not?

      And how come I keep reading about the "average person" only wanting to watch streamed video and surf the net? Until a device tailor made for the job comes along, and now it's suddenly too limited, because the "average user" wants to do so much more..

      Personally, I do far more than surf the web on my computers, but I would seriously consider one of these for couch surfing.

      1. Fihart

        Re: What's the catch ?

        @ John Bailey "people returning the ones with Windows installed, because they found them too slow to use."

        Well, undoubtedly that happened too.

        My brush with netbooks suggests that one supplied with Ubuntu wouldn't work well (hideous looking UI, and wireless problems) -- so a slim version of XP was installed and, after searching for drivers (thanks for nothing, Elonex) it ran very well.

        Alternatively, a Dell netbook as supplied with XP slowed to a halt (typically cluttered with crap) and was replaced by a Mac.

        My impression is that Chromebooks rely far too much on wireless/3g to be practical or economic in many circumstances. Any device reliant on 3G will be crippled as long as the telcos are permitted to run riot with pricing.

  7. Gordan

    I have a Chromebook Pixel, and it's _fantastic_ - now that I've put full fat Linux distro on it.

  8. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Chromebooks sneak past MS police

    the only chromebooks I'm familiar with have crouton loaded so you can switch between the chrome OS and linux almost instantaneously. They are almost what the doctor ordered. Add a mouse and keyboard and lean it against something and you have a full blown PC, or simple(?) netbook for life on the move.

    These are what netbooks would have been if MS hadn’t cut the head off and pooped down the neck.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chromebooks sneak past MS police

      Why wreck the entire concept by hobbling it with a full-blown OS? That is *so* missing the point.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Chromebooks sneak past MS police


        If it was Win 8, I'd agree. The right Linux distro and UI is quite sprightly on a truly ancient PC, so I'd expect it to run happily on a Chromebook. ISTRR Linus uses a Linux'ed Chromebook!

  9. Henry Blackman

    For $300 or British equivalent, you buy a tablet. Better features, better form factor.

  10. Craig Mulvaney

    Flash games?

    Do chromebooks play flash games ok? Might be perfect for the kids who just want to go on ceebeebies and iplayer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Flash games?

      My Samsung ARM-powered Chromebook does Flash games very well. It seems to run them more smoothly and reliably than the IBM ThinkPad running Windows that I compared it with.

  11. PJI

    Try lugging one across any country/area where your internet/data access is limited to expensive roaming or the occasional wi-fi (not always free) access in your bed and breakfast/campsite. Suddenly, this is a very expensive piece of extra weight, on which you can not even install Skype for cheap telephoning even when a wi-fi is available. My friend's lovely chromebook spent the whole time in my bicycle pannier bag for our tour of Central and Eastern Europe, including parts of Germany and Austria. His ancient Nokia smartphone and my iPhone turned out to be much more convenient and generally useful, being usable as cameras, SMS user agents and for occasional, short 'phone calls, with adequate ability to check email or do a quick browser session when wi-fi was available. Plus, even for data calls with a SIM card, not all mobile providers allow the sorts of quantities used by a chromebook

    I am sure that they are wonderful for tootling around one's home network area if you do not want full computing. I doubt their usefulness, for instance, for working on a document or doing a bit of programming while on a train that is out of network range in most tunnels and cuttings, or that provides wi-fi to some limited extent at a price, in first class only.

    And, as someone has asked before, how many or what proportion of the whole PC market costs under €230/£200?

    With the increasing use of SSD making even quite low-spec PCs almost instantly on, Chrome seems to lose even that minor advantage. Surely, for not much more, one gets the full "cloud" works plus the ability to work offline. For those who do not need that, a tablet computer still provides more than a chromebook.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      So they were less use than a phone at being a phone?

      Would a $3000 alienware, multi-core i7 with a TB disk and Windows8 been any better?

  12. xehpuk

    dedicated button for dualbooting

    I would like to see more/easier dualbooting.

    For quick virusfree surfing boot chrome. For more advanced use boot Linux or Windows.

    How about putting two powerbuttons on all laptops? One chrome button and one other os button? Chrome would not waste disk space if it could be used for factoryresetting that other os also. Oh and make the chromeos button bigger than the other os button. People who are not computer savy should not boot the other os by miatake.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: dedicated button for dualbooting

      You don't even need to reboot. Since Chrome is running a Linux kernel you can also run "real" Linux at the same time and just hot key between the two.

  13. Jim 59


    Love the idea, but isn't the Chromebook just overflowing with Google stalkware ? I don't know, just presuming.

    1. Joe Montana

      Re: Google

      Chromebooks don't do as much as regular laptops? Most users never use all the features anyway, and more importantly the average user isn't technically literate enough to deal with a complex computer system, and because of this you have all manner of malware problems.

      A Chromebook takes away the burden of managing a complex system, and allows the user to get on with what they want to do.

      As for the google stalkware aspect... Yes that's true, but the fundamental idea of a managed computer for non technical users is a good one - we just need more choices as to who manages it rather than just google.

      1. Mark .

        Re: Google

        Even dummy users often want to do more than run a web browser though.

        It's a shame - I think Google could do a lot more if they were promoting the idea of writing web apps, but this doesn't seem to be happening. There's even a Chrome plugin/API that allows writing native code in a cross-platform manner, so there's loads of potential, but it doesn't seem to be used. I thought this was the idea of the Chrome Store. But I tried it out - I installed ChromeOS on a VM, and decided to give it a go.

        You known what? Not a single application I tried ran on ChromeOS, because they all required a native plug-ins - that only ran on Windows (or perhaps, Windows, OS X and maybe Linux).

        That's terrible. It emphasises the point that even for web stuff, you're better off with one of the other OSs. And the fact that the Chrome Store is littered with this stuff, making them unusable Chromebooks, seems a disaster.

  14. AdamCB

    Chromebook Sales

    Chromebooks got off to a rocky start when they were first released, but Google has finally started to get the Chromebook concept message across to more and more manufacturers, retailers, analysts and users.

    But what about Chromebook users that need to access Windows applications like Microsoft office? They can try products like Ericom AccessNow, an HTML5 RDP solution that enables Chromebook users to connect to Terminal Servers and/or VDI virtual desktops, and run Windows applications or desktops in a browser tab.

    There's nothing to install on the Chromebook, so AcccessNow is easy to deploy and manage.

    For an online, interactive demo, open your Chrome browser and visit:

    Please note that I work for Ericom

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