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  (Source: Softpedia)
Chrome OS is the world's top Linux notebook distribution and is giving Microsoft and Apple a run for their money

Gartner Inc. (IT), a top market research firm, brings good news for Google Inc. (GOOG).  The analysts at Gartner estimate that Chromebooks -- notebook computers that run Google's Chrome OS Linux distribution -- will see a 27 percent increase in sales for this year, with sales rising from 5.7 million in 2014 to 7.3 million in 2015.
 
By region Gartner forecasts North America to continue to be Chromebooks top sales location, with roughly 84 percent of global sales:
  • North America -- 4,820,000 -- 84%
  • EMEA* ----------   620,000 -- 11%
  • APAC^ ----------   146,000 -- 2.5%
  • Latin America --   142,000 -- 2.5%
*EMEA= Europe, Middle East, and Africa
^APAC= Asia-Pacific countries
 
Chrome OS
[Image Source: ZDNet]

 
While APAC (Asian-Pacific) sales were nearly as low as in Latin America, enterprise sales of Chromebooks were unexpectedly lively in the region accounting for 16.5 percent of sales -- roughly 24,000 units.  By contrast while nearly 35 Chromebooks sold in North America for ever one in the APAC region, only 53,000 of those sales -- or roughly 1.1 percent -- were to enterprise clients.  In the U.S. nearly 2 in 5 Chromebooks sold (38.6 percent) went to consumers, while roughly three in five (60.3 percent) went to educational institutions.

Isabelle Durand, a principal analyst at Gartner, comments:
Since the first model launched in mid-2011, Google's Chromebook has seen success mainly in the education segment across all regions.  In 2014, the education sector purchased 72 percent of Chromebooks in EMEA, 69 percent in Asia/Pacific, and 60 percent in the U.S.

Gartner separately estimated that "traditional" PCs -- which includes Chrome OS notebooks, as well as Windows and OS X desktop/notebooks (but not "premium ultrabooks") -- would move 257 million units.  In that regard, outside the premium ultrabook space, Chromebooks may command roughly a 3 percent market share and a low double digit share of the total non-ultrabook laptop market.

By OEM, Gartner estimates that Taiwan's Acer, Inc. (TPE:2353) took first place in 2014 with 2 million Chromebooks estimated to be sold worldwide.  Acer has been a top evangelist of Chromebooks after seeing disappointing sales of its notebooks that ran Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Windows 8.

Acer Chromebook
Acer's Chromebook 11

Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (KRX:005930) (KRX:005935) who owned the first place spot in 2013 fell to second after pulling out of the European Chromebooks market and refocusing on the tablet sector.  Samsung saw roughly 1.7 million units sold.  Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ) who was among the last major players to arrive in the Chromebooks space (with its first model introduced in late 2013).  ASUSTek Computer, Inc. (TPE:2357) -- who launched a small selection of Chromebooks in 2014 -- was presumably in fourth place.

Gartner didn't make any sales predictions about what OEMs might be atop the 2015
sales charts.  However, looking at Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) -- one of the primary Chromebook retail channels in North America -- it appears that Acer is dominating sales, but ASUSTek is close behind, with most of its models placing ahead of Samsung's in sales rankings.
ASUS Chromebook
ASUS Chromebook C300

Chromebooks from Toshiba Corp. (TYO:6502), Dell, Inc., and the Lenovo Group Ltd. (HKG:0992) also appear to be picking up some steam.  All three OEMs, like HP and ASUSTek have turned to Chromebooks to supplement depressed Windows PC sales.  Overall the trio's efforts have been quieter, though, than HP and ASUSTek, who both devote more press attention to Chromebook launches.
 
While Chromebooks continue to flourish in the low-cost segment of education and consumer notebook computer markets, Google continues to struggle to attract enterprise users.  Durand notes that Google is trying to change this, in part, by adding on useful tools, such as its Chromebook for Work suite of business minded apps, which includes both new additions and the well-liked Google Docs suite.
 
Chrome OS apps

Chrome OS has been focusing on expanding enterprise app selection and increasing offline app access.

Durand comments:

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.  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.

Chromebooks will face a tough fight in the budget SMB sector for the rest of this year, though, as Microsoft is expected to help OEMs flood the space with lower cost Windows 10 notebooks in just a couple months.  Also a threat to Chromebooks is the issue of patent licensing fees, which Microsoft has succesfully extracted from a number of vendors inflating prices modestly.

Perhaps because of the challenge of Windows 10 (which early on is being received more warmly than Windows 8) and higher prices due to licensing, Gartner predicts that next year (in 2016) Chromebooks will see a slowdown in growth.  It forecast that they will rise only 9 percent to 7.95m units sold next year.

That said, it appears that Chromebooks are here to stay and continue to be attracting modest attention in some spaces.

Source: Gartner





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