Chromebook popularity soars, outsells Android tablets and Macbooks in the US


NPD Group has come out with some new computing unit sales numbers in the US for the period of January 2013 through November 2013, and compared them to sales of units from the same period a year ago. There were some interesting, if not predictable, trends in the numbers. iPads still dominate the tablet wars, Windows notebooks and desktops are still crushing Mac OS equivalents, PC sales are down overall, and Android tablets are growing at a respectable pace.


But one trend in particular caught our eye — Chromebooks are doing damned well for themselves. NPD Group shows that Chromebooks accounted for 9.6% of sales in these categories, outpacing the 1.8% of the share owned by Macbooks and 8.7% by Android tablets. We’d put more weight on the 2.2% of Windows tablets, but that was probably already obvious.

Those Chromebook numbers were much higher than last year’s measly 0.2%, which isn’t surprising considering there’s a much larger stable of affordable and interesting devices to choose from. Options from HP, Samsung, ASUS and more give consumers a decent connected computing experience for a pretty nice value.

Most folks still need the type of horsepower that only traditional PCs can provide, but this proves that there is a market out there for a platform driven entirely by the web. It’s the “check email, bank statements, YouTube and the latest gossip” crowd that helps Chromebook flourish.

2014 should be even more interesting, with devices like the LG Chromebase showing that Chrome OS can fit on more traditional form factors. You can find the full chart above, and more details about computing device sales from NPD’s research can be had at the source link.

[via NPD Group]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. A note of interest. This is only for business purchases. This is not personal purchases.

    1. Good point

      1. This is probably the effect of BYOD in many companies

    2. I am still surprised. I wouldn’t have thought anyone would have wanted a Chromebook. I was always thought a better business case would be where you controlled the machine inside and out, not the vendor automatically updating and changing things at will.

      1. This makes way more sense that its business/education sales only. Also, when you are a google apps customer google allows you to control your users update schedule and rollouts for all google products including chromebooks.

      2. Our school district has purchased over 500 of these in the past 8 months, and will be buying another 800 or so, in the coming 18. They offer outstanding value, and have performed very well– much better than a budget laptop. Google Enterprise allows us to control just about everything on the student workstations, right down to what apps are on them, who has permission to add them, etc. To pay <$300 per unit for a machine with 10-second startup time, all-day battery life, etc., is SO much more sensible for our needs.

        1. That makes a lot of sense in the educational space if your going to be buying things like this.

          Although I got a perfectly good education back in the dark ages without amy of this. I laugh at the kids who can’t do simple algebra without a graphing calculator today. DAMN KIDS! GET OFF MY LAWN!

    3. Yeah, I think they should fix the title. At least put in business since where in there.

    4. They are also popular on Amazon and retail and direct, which are all consumer purchases. Chrome books have been the top laptop on Amazon all last year, and usually three or four of the top 10.

    5. Guess where Windows started…..

  2. Assuming that there isn’t some glaring issue with this data, then Microsoft must be sweating bullets

  3. Looks like Microsoft is getting scroogled ;)

    1. Now I understand why MS was so worried about the Chromebooks to do several adds trashing those little machines that i thought only nerds known about… The only ones increasing the share are android tablets, MS tablets and the Chromebooks

    2. I am sure someone will be along shortly to tell you they have nothing to fear.

  4. If they would make a detachable screen on all chrome book’s they would sell even more.

    1. Sooo an Asus transformer? chromeOs is just a dumbed down version of Android.

      1. Sure why not, it gives a basic computer and tablet if you don’t want the keyboard. All that at a cheaper price point than Asus transformer

        1. Just throwing this out their…touchscreens are MORE work to use than a mouse/touchpad and keyboard setup, their primary benefit is just making the device slightly smaller and as screen size rises touchscreens get worse to use not better.

          Chrome os isn’t a dumbed down version of android, it is different, it includes full version of chrome (including extensions/add ons) (I fully expect android and chrome os to merge, eventually). Android can’t match chrome os for pure browser speed either at this point.

          The best feature of chrome OS is definitely the instantaneousness, it might not seem like a lot, but it’s huge in how you utilize it. Try turning your laptop off or sleeping, your phone screen off (and presumably locked) (dont’ even bother turning the phone all the way off it’s way too slow), and have your chrome os computer off or sleeping. Try out a few singular common tasks, google something random that pops into your head, find and play a youtube video, write a page long e-mail. Chrome os will dominate.

          1. Just because you can type on a ten inch touchscreen does not mean that you should. iPads are vestigial organs like tonsils: you feel better and get more work done without touch screens.

      2. It isn’t a dumbed down anything, it is a browser – hardly a difficult concept to grasp.

    2. No need. Buy a $35 Chromecast dongle and make your TV another screen for your Chromebook.

  5. convinced my parents to buy themselves one(Samsung) and they lived it so much they bought one for my uncle’s anniversary gift. it runs extremely well for its low specs due to chrome os

  6. If they could add a ChromeOS install to Android tablets and phones – like Ubuntu desktop mode they would rule the world.

    1. I wish they would release chrome os to be installed on any pc I tried to make a boot able flash drive but just managed to corrupt the flash drive

      1. You cannot corrupt a flash drive, you just need to create new partition tables. Try here It’s even easier to get it running in a VM.

        1. I created a VirtualBox ChromeOS client on my laptop and perfromance was…less than steller. I may not have the fastest laptop on the block: Core2 Duo a 2.4+ GHz, 4GB RAM (2 dedicated to Chrome Client, and nothing else running in my Win7 Host), SSD. But I would hope it would be enough to support such a light weight OS.
          I wonder how much better it will perfrom booted stand-alone from a flash drive.

    2. If Google would just add Android-like apps to Chrome OS and then ditch the laggy mess known as Android, Google would be in great shape.

      1. If you think Android is a laggy mess then you have not used it for the past 4 years. Troll elsewhere.

  7. This is great. I love my Chromebook as does everyone in my family as we all have a quick, easy, personalized experience. I keep wanting to buy a new one for the heck of it, but my OG Acer is still working well.

  8. Interestingly i wonder what the average price per device purchase was? seems like based on those categories that went up it would have gotten significantly cheaper. maybe just cheap sells.

  9. Another big feature people don’t realize is chromebooks unlike windows and mac pc and even tablets, get better not worse with age.

    Think about your pc. You bought it, and day one it ran a bunch of updates… suddenly your usable hard drive space got smaller, and that happens once a week. Your anti-virus definitions also expand, meaning longer more complex scanning and active scanning, slowing your machine down. Every Time you install a program your registry gets more cluttered and slows your machine down. Also many of those programs constantly run processes that slowly eat at your available ram, because apparently itunes/spotify/java updater/adobe/etc need to constantly run small tasks on your computer for god only knows what reason?

    Chromebooks get updates with optimizations, like hey now it boots a few seconds faster, or now you have a new desktop/offline feature.

    1. Google video algorithms are getting better all the time. Google knows bandwidth and space to decode video are problems best solved on computers that crunch video into smaller, faster and more visually clean forms when displayed on user screen. The same goes for voice and the AI algorithms that are constantly being improved to make your bitty device hear what your telling it to do. Bitty devices like Mac Air and Mac Pros can be made as responsive as Chrome books if you use Chrome Browsers on them, but, why not use a Chromebook rather than correct defficincies in Apple software via Google workarounds?

      1. What “Google video algorithms?” I mean, what is your point? They can compress video in the cloud? BFD. What that has to do with serving cloud apps…dunno, because that does not work via streaming compressed video.


          Why take part in the discussion if you don’t even know the subject, Google’s video technology has been around for a while, they also run the world biggest video website you might have heard of it, it’s called YouTube.

  10. It feels like another netbook to me. While this is a boon for business and education because of the cheap price, the average consumer will do fine with a tablet.

    1. Until they actually want to type on their device…

      1. Again…fringe cases. It’s got even fewer apps than a surface rt device. If the scenario was I need a tablet with integrated keyboard for email and docs, and that’s it, I’d get the surface.

        1. But here’s the thing – because current chromebooks have keyboards and fast browsers, you don’t really NEED apps to make the chromebook enjoyable to use. The focus on apps on smartphones and tablets really came about because using a browser on those devices, especially smartphones, is painful relative to a desktop or laptop PC/Mac. By contrast, apps on chromebooks are/will be all about allowing a cloud-based OS device to be reasonably functional off-line.

          Incidentally, in addition to owning a chromebook, I also own multiple tablets covering five different operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows RT, Blackberry Tablet OS, and webOS). IMO, the iPad (which I just received for Christmas) is definitely the “best” (i.e. most enjoyable to use) of the mobile operating systems on a tablet, but I like using the chromebook even more.

        2. Nope – not true at all – it has most big name mobile apps available as desktop apps then literally thousands of extensions.

        3. Typing is a fringe case? My wife has a tablet and a Chromebook, and she barely touches the tablet anymore specifically because its easier to use the Chromebook… typing URLs, searches, etc. She loves it. I’ve used it a handful of times, and it blows any netbook we’d previously owned out of the water in terms of speed, cloud sync, and ease of use. Its nearly perfect. We have a desktop PC for any heavy lifting, although it hasn’t been on much since we bought the Chromebook.

      2. If typing is that important to the user, obviously it would be a no brainer to just get a compatible keyboard.

  11. Chromebooks and cloud are the biggest insult to the word “computing”. Chromebook is a useless piece of crap. My Galaxy Mega is more useful. This is just a stupid fad

    1. I suppose it is a good thing to have on your living room coffee table or bedroom nightstand so that you can just get on the web

      1. No that’s a tablet with a keyboard

    2. You really have no idea what you are talking about.. For instance, you can use “crouton” to install Ubuntu/Debian into a chroot and run both ChromeOS and Linux environments simultaneously. You can also simply dual boot Linux (or probably windows) since the latest chromebooks use SeaBIOS.. I highly doubt your cell phone can do all of that.

      1. LOL. Do you have any clue how much of a fringe scenario you just outlined? Yeah, mom, just dual boot chrome os AND Linux. Then grep your man pages! Easy peasy.

        1. Great response that added absolutely no value what so ever. If running Linux on a PC is a “fringe scenario” to you then I’m sure there are plenty of non technical websites that you could be visiting right now.

    3. You are a stupid fad if you don’t see that the faster the internet becomes the more any OS will become cloud supported. You are so stupid it hurts.

  12. My Uncle Sean just got
    Audi Q7 by working part-time off of a pc. see B­i­g­2­9­.­ℂ­o­m

  13. Kennemer says, “Most folks still need the type of horsepower that only traditional PCs can provide”, and I really wonder how true that is. For work, that may be so. However, what do you do with a computer at home that can’t be done in the cloud? And, every couple of months, the cloud gets noticeably more robust. I have a Chromebook Pixel because I want a quality screen experience but am very happy with the cloud. The free cloud storage that comes with Chromebooks only sweetens the deal.

    1. You were wise to buy a Chrome Pixel. Bloggers who complained about the price missed the point. Chromebooks with 4xHDTV capabilities are coming soon. Business leaders who want to watch three subordinates fix a business problem in real time will need high quality voice and video to read body language and voice to judge veracity and grace under pressure.

  14. IMO, most people do NOT need the horsepower of a traditional PC/Mac, but they do want something simple and easy to maintain. Chromebooks are becoming popular for many of the same reasons tablets are. In fact, I think chromebooks actually one-up tablets in the simplicity and long-term value departments (in the latter case due to little decline in performance over time), and IMO it is only a matter of time before we start seeing chromepads and eventually chromephones. When that happens, Apple will join Microsoft in the “uh oh” department (because Chrome OS devices will be able to significantly undercut Apple devices in price while offering comparable performance AND will not suffer performance declines endemic to computers with device-based operating systems).

  15. Help is on the way for Chromebooks. This time next year ask the people in Provo, Austin, Chelsea, or Kansas City whether Fiber plus high speed WiFi is better than a Mac Pro or company server. Chrome provides access to Google Apps on Google Servers that will be faster and more powerful than those not accessed by Chrome. Moreover some big data Apps will only run on Google. No other source can deliver the power: not IBM, not Microsoft and certainly not Apple.

  16. I wanna see somebody do the video editing I can do on my macbook pro, on a chromebook. lol

    1. I want to see how many people out of 100 randomly chosen computer users actually use their computer for video editing. LOL.

      1. And out of those 100 randomly chosen computer users who actually want/need video editing, I wonder how many would choose to spend $1200+ for a Mac as opposed to $200+ for a Chromebook that at least has some (usually free) decent features of video editing.

        People aren’t blind and the average to informed consumer will probably be able to figure out that features like that on a Mac or PC will give more options, however price often wins.

  17. Looks like a ton if folks didn’t get what they wanted for xmass. LOL.

    1. Is someone at Office of Astroturfing, Microsoft PR department, Scroogled campaign division really thinking up these lame jibes?

  18. “Most folks still need the type of horsepower that only traditional PCs can provide”

    this is not true, most folks do not need that kind of horsepower.

    1. Pretty much. Most folks need something to browse YouTube and Facebook.

  19. Skewed. No way is this right.

    1. Famous Quote.

      “Where are the American tanks? I can’t see any American tanks.”

      Baghdad Bob.

  20. The real test for Chromebooks will come over the next few weeks and months when we see how many of them show up on eBay because of the tech-ignorant that bought them over the holiday season thinking they were just cheap laptops, but then found out how much they can’t do on a Chromebook (Skype, Office, Photoshop, Minecraft, iTunes, many movie streaming services, most popular games, etc.)

    I’m not saying Chromebooks are useless. They can be a good value for some people. But I suspect that over the holiday season, a lot of people got duped into buying them thinking they were low end laptops, without realizing that they can’t do most things that most “normal” laptops can do.

    1. As someone who loves mine, I would agree. Best Buy has them prominently displayed. People who are tech illiterate will have no clue that it is different from Windows because they simply have concept of OS, what runs on what, etc. That said, assuming they were buying it for netbook type purposes, a Chromebook is WAY better at being a netbook than any netbook I’ve owned, so maybe they’ll be pleasantly surprised, or not even notice (assuming they were mostly browsing).

      My list of missing things would have been similar to yours prior to owning a Chromebook, but now I find google hangouts to be better than skype for our family, I like google’s word processer better than word in many ways because it does the basics, its simple, and it autosaves/sync’s to the cloud. Its wonderful to work on a document on the chromebook, close the lid when you bore of it, get on your desktop PC the next day, and pick up where you left off. I do miss photoshop. I’m not big on games, and I thankfully haven’t been forced to use itunes in years. I agree with your initial suspicion, but perhaps a good number of them will be fine with what they got in the end.

      1. I could probably get by fine with a Chromebook as well since I’m a writer and I don’t need need Microsoft Word compatibility. But when it comes to Google’s word processor, I won’t consider it a viable option until they fix the Achilles’ heel of if being impossible to remove custom words from the dictionary once you have added them. People have been complaining about that for years and Google seems to be completely ignoring them. That’s a big problem for me because, for example, I like to add the names of my characters and fictional towns to the dictionary, but then when I start working on a new story, I want to clear out the dictionary of the custom words I added for the last story.

        That’s not a deal breaker for me when it comes to Chromebooks, though, as I’ve found that I like the distraction free writing environments better then Google Docs or Microsoft Word anyway. Writebox is my favorite Chrome app for writing in these days.

  21. What were your choices for Chromebooks a year ago?

  22. The only thing I need windows for is for my work – video editing. I prefer Drive to Office, Hangouts to Skype… so its a no brainer… my next PC will not be a normal PC but a chromebook… preferably at least 15 inches.

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