Since the pandemic began and because of it, it’s been tricky to find many Chromebooks in stores for quite some time now. According to a report by Canalys analyzing the total PC market growth (including tablets) for this year, Chromebook shipments have grown by 122% at a total of 9.4 million units in Q3 of 2020. While that’s still a relatively small number compared to the 124.5 million units sold across all brands and operating systems, it’s an incredible milestone for Google who has continually seen explosive growth with their laptops year over year.
For most average consumers who just need to access the internet and the many core experiences that have transitioned to web apps over the past few years, Chromebooks became a clear go-to choice when the pandemic began. After being forced to work or take part in school from their homes, millions of teachers, students, and others from various walks of life rushed into stores to buy the least expensive laptop they could get their hands on and Chromebooks were the answer. They wanted to buy a laptop that would allow them to be productive without having to worry too much about maintenance – once again, Chromebooks were the answer. These same people were hoping for not only a device that allowed them to be productive but also to enjoy entertainment in their massive amounts of downtime and guess what – Chromebooks were the answer. At every turn during the creation of the new normal, Google’s laptops stepped in and proved that they are the future of computing for many.
Just under Chromebooks, detachables were the next category to see the most growth at 88%. In addition, companies like HP and Lenovo sold the most Chromebooks in Q3 (Lenovo alone had an 18.9% market share in Q3). Wait a minute – Chromebooks, detachables, Lenovo…that sounds like the perfect trifecta for a top-selling device that would captivate millions – the Lenovo Chromebook Duet ticks all three of those boxes, so it’s no surprise that it’s gotten a lot of attention lately. As more and more people move away from computer towers, small desktops, and full-fledged workstations, which all lost money during Q3 2020, the success of Chromebooks begins to look less like sheer dumb luck and more like strategic planning on Google’s part. The only thing that’s been an unfortunate but beneficial timing for them has been the pandemic, but many experts agree that it’s just accelerated the inevitable concept of working from home by several years thanks to both the evolution of video communications technologies and consumer’s being required to adapt to it during this unfortunate time.
What will be interesting is seeing whether or not Chromebooks will continue to see such massive year over year shipment and sales increases post-pandemic. I believe that they will because while many people refused to try a Chromebook before, thanks to popular misconceptions about them, they’ve now picked one up by necessity and have had the chance to experience it firsthand and I don’t think there’s any going back from that.