Education remains the primary sales market, but Google continues to push its Chromebook for Work concepts to grow business adoption, says Gartner.
Chromebook sales around the world are on track to hit 7.3 million devices in 2015, which would be a 27 percent jump from global Chromebook sales in 2014, when some 5.7 million were sold, according to the latest report by research firm Gartner.
The education market is still the primary buyer and user of Chromebooks, but Google is continuing to also target the business and enterprise markets by pushing its Chromebooks for Work office applications and support offerings, said Gartner. Some 72 percent of the Chromebooks sold in 2014 went to the education market around the world, the report continued.
"Since the first model launched in mid-2011, Google's Chromebook has seen success mainly in the education segment across all regions," Gartner analyst Isabelle Durand said in a statement.
About 60.3 percent of Chromebook sales in the United States in 2014 went to schools, while 38.6 percent went to consumers. Only 1.1 percent went to business users. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Chromebook sales to education reached 72.3 percent in 2014, compared to 26.8 percent to consumers and 0.9 percent to businesses. In the Asia-Pacific market, education made up 68.8 percent of the Chromebook market, compared with 14.7 percent for consumers and 16.5 percent for businesses.
Google has been working to make Chromebooks better-equipped for business use by improving access and functions for more applications and services while users are offline, the report states.
"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," Durand said. "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 and their desktop brethren Chromeboxes run Google's Chrome operating system and feature a wide range of preinstalled, cloud-based Google services and products, including Google Docs and Google Calendar. Chromebooks allow users to do their work online or offline.
To expand sales in the consumer space, Google needs to improve awareness about the brand and about the devices and their features, especially outside the U.S. market, the report continued.
"The majority of Chromebook users are tech-savvy individuals who purchase one as a companion device to their primary notebook or desktop PC," Durand said. "Others are buying a Chromebook for the household to use as a second low-cost PC alternative."
North American Chromebook sales totaled 4.8 million in 2014 and are expected to rise to 6 million in 2015 and 6.2 million in 2016, according to Gartner.
"The major factors that affect the adoption of Chromebooks by consumers remain the connectivity issue in emerging markets, but also the ability for users to understand and get used to cloud-based applications, and keep content in the cloud and ecosystem," said Durand.
Acer was the leading worldwide Chromebook vendor in 2014, replacing Samsung after that company decided to exit the European Chromebook market and focus on tablets, according to Gartner. Acer sold more than 2 million units in 2014. Samsung came in second with 1.7 million units sold in 2014, while Hewlett-Packard came in third with 1 million units.
Some good news for the Chromebook market is that global tablet sales are continuing to decline, with Apple and Samsung selling 23 percent and 30 percent fewer tablets, respectively, compared to a year ago, according to a new report from ABI Research. Apple's iPad shipments in the first quarter of 2015 hit 12.62 million units, which is a drop of 23 percent from the same quarter one year prior, according to ABI. Apple shipped 21.42 million iPads in the fourth quarter of 2014, which was an 18 percent drop from the same period one year prior, according to a recent eWEEK
Samsung fared similarly, with a 30 percent decline in tablet sales for the first quarter of 2015, compared to the same period one year prior. For all tablet makers overall in the first quarter, tablet sales are down 13 percent across-the-board, compared to a year ago, according to ABI.