More vendors are now making Chromebooks, helping them grow beyond the education sector into banking, retail and other markets
Gartner is predicting a 79 percent increase in sales of Chromebooks this year as more manufacturers begin making Chrome OS-powered devices and the cloud based operating system enjoys growth beyond the key education sector.
Sales are projected to reach 5.2 million units during 2014, with sales expected to nearly triple to 14.4 million units by 2017.
Vendors such as HP and Lenovo have joined Chromebook pioneers Samsung and Acer as they search for a way to revive sales hit by the declining PC market, and this will help the devices expand beyond the US education market, which last year accounted for nearly 85 percent of Chromebook sales, according to Gartner. Of the 2.9 million Chromebooks sold in 2013, 82 percent were sold in North America.
“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.
The analyst firm sees Chromebooks being used by staff in banking, financial services, estate agents and hotel receptionists, all of whom could benefit from the devices’ simplicity.
Chrome OS relies mainly on the cloud for storage, with all applications accessed or downloaded from the Google Play store via a Wi-Fi or cellular connection. Local storage is limited to a maximum of 16GB, with most Chromebooks using solid-state drives.
This cloud focus is likely to be another factor aiding the devices’ growth, Gartner said: “As more users work collaboratively in the cloud, collaborative working practices are likely to become more common which may further increase the appeal of Chromebooks and similar devices.”
However the analyst firm is of the opinion that Chromebooks will remain a niche market for the next five years, awaiting a stronger feature set that could allow them to achieve a broader appeal, with features such as faster connectivity, faster memory access, faster and higher-capacity solid-state drives and strong user support in specialised sectors.
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