Thanks to the global pandemic, Chromebooks saw explosive growth over the past year, and it showed no signs of slowing down. However, a new report on the global PC market from Canalys shows that Chromebook shipments have slowed and have dipped 37% in Q3 of 2021. At first blush, it could be easy to say “Welp, that’s all, folks! Chromebooks had their time in the spotlight, but the fun and games are over. It’s time to stop pretending it’s a viable solution, and these numbers prove it!”, but I would urge those who approach the chart found below in this manner to slow their roll a bit.
When COVID first struck, stores began shutting down, and everyone across the globe was forced to scramble and adapt to a work from home model in order to keep society from crumbling, Chromebooks were the obvious choice. They’re inexpensive in bulk, lightweight, and offer a simple means of accessing the internet along with its wealth of information. Most businesses and schools had already migrated their technologies to web portals, so it made sense to pick up a Chromebook! Basically, digital workspace adoption had been rapidly accelerated, and Google swooped in to meet the need.
Canalys makes it very clear in their report what likely caused the dip, so let’s take a look. It states that Google’s focus on education meant an unavoidable slowdown due to the fact that most homes and students already have one to several Chromebooks available to them. Google made sure that Chromebook has become a well-accepted household name for millions, so now i’ts just going through a season of enjoying the fruits of its labor.
The Chromebook market was hit by a massive downturn, with a 37% year-on-year fall in shipments (52% quarter on quarter) in Q3. This comes as major education markets such as the US and Japan reach saturation point, with public sector funding of digital education programs slowing. The Chromebook market has grown tremendously since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as students have been forced to adapt to new learning settings.Canalys
Another reason for the slowdown in shipments aside from the market saturation is that many school districts are currently awaiting funding from the US government’s $7 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund program to be paid out. This is the money that many educators planned on buying a bulk of Chromebooks with, so we’re likely to see a rise in sales once that drops. Additionally, Chromebook sales are always greater in quantity closer to the back to school season, and for the rest of the year, they’re lower, naturally. With all of these factors compounding on top of the pandemic growth spurt for Chrome OS, it’s easy to see why such a drop in traffic for Google’s laptops is likely no big deal.
During our interview with Jerry Kao, Acer’s COO, we asked him why Chromebooks hadn’t appeared in the company’s recent keynote. His response encapsulates the very essence of everything we’ve seen up until this point – Chromebooks are selling, and therefore, there’s no real urgency in placing them in the spotlight during a live event. If they’re on the shelves, people will buy them – and have! Google has now gone from being immersed in an emerging market to being smack dab in the middle of a growing market.
Most people know what a Chromebook is now, and by extension, understand what they’re capable of – or at the very least, understand the benefits they offer compared to the competition. Because of this we’re not worried about the numbers presented by Canalys as being indicative of some sort of doom and gloom apocalypse for the Chromebook golden age. Now that Chrome OS is in the hands of the masses, it can continue its ascension to polish and perfection as a competitive tool for business and personal use.