Chromebook tips

Do Chromebooks matter anymore?

acer chromebook 13 vendor front

The Acer Chromebook 13 has island-style keys and a large trackpad.

Credit: Image: Acer

Will they go the way of the netbook?

Chromebooks used to dominate Amazon's laptop best-seller list, and get breathless reviews with each new one released. That's no longer true. Do Chromebooks really matter anymore?

Not that long ago, if you looked at Amazon's laptop best-sellers, they would be dominated by Chromebooks. As recently as this past December, Chromebooks were the three top-selling laptops for the holiday season --- the Acer C720 Chromebook, ASUS Chromebook C300, and HP Chromebook 11.

Look at the best-selling list today, though, and Chromebooks have faded. At the moment, the best-selling Chromebook is number 5 on the list (Acer Chromebook 11 CB3-111-C670). And only three of the top 15 sellers are Chromebooks.

Chromebooks also aren't getting great support from chip makers, either. Last week, AMD chief technical officer Mark Papermaster said that AMD had no plans to target Chromebooks with its chips, and is content to let Intel dominate the market. The market simply isn't big enough and can't provide sizable enough margins, he said.

And although Chromebooks got plenty of press in 2014, big sales didn't really follow. IDC said that 4.6 million Chromebooks sold in 2014, compared to 304 million Windows PCs. That's a drop in the bucket. And even though that number roughly doubled from a year ago, it's easy to double your sales when you start from a low number.

Gartner says that Chromebook sales will reach 14.4 million by 2017, but analyst's projections several years in advance are always suspect. And even that 14.4 million number will pales next to sales of Windows machines.

Low-cost Windows laptops are finally beginning to break out -- seven of the top 10 Amazon best-sellers are Windows laptops selling for under $300, Chromebooks' sweet spot. And keep in mind, Windows 8 is a deeply flawed operating system. Windows 10 looks to be much better. So expect sales of low-cost Windows laptops to truly take off when Windows 10 is released.

The upshot of all this? Chromebooks will still have a market, particularly in schools. But as for mainstream computing, they simply don't matter that much anymore.

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