Part of the primary Chrome OS session at Google I/O 2019 opened up with some interesting tidbits about the rising popularity of Chromebooks in an effort to continue enticing developers to consider and remember Chrome OS when developing their apps. It makes sense, right? If you want developers to target your platform, you need to prove that the users are there. If the users are there, the developers will follow.
To drive home this point in the session, the first presenter – Sweet Song – showed a series of slides that highlighted the growth of Chrome OS as both a hardware and software platform. When I saw the numbers, I was pretty impressed by not only the growth of Chromebooks in the final quarter of last year, but also in the benefit Chrome OS delivers to Android app developers. Let’s take a look at the stats.
We’ll start off with the biggest stat of them all: sales numbers. In Q4 of 2018, Chromebooks made up 21% of all notebooks sold in the US. That is up from 17% in Q4 of 2017 for a whopping 23% growth year-over-year. This statistic proves one very important thing: Chromebooks are selling and there are a lot of people using them.
As simple as it sounds, Google needs to continue putting these kind of stats in front of both users and devlopers alike to get it through everyone’s head that Chromebooks are not only here to stay, they are amassing quite the user base. With a strong, growing base of regular users, developers can more easily make the case for more time spent optimizing their apps for Chrome OS.
In the early days of Android on Chrome OS this simply wasn’t the case. We had a fun, new technology with a small subset of users that made it OK for developers to largely ignore. Those days are slowly coming to an end, however, and as the user base continues to grow and Chromebook continue to sell, developers won’t be able to afford to ignore Chromebooks for much longer.
The second data set Google shared with the developers on hand was a bit about app usage on Chromebooks. This was presented in a couple ways and both are encouraging to see. First up is the overall Android usage on Chromebooks increasing over the past year. Compared with the year prior, Android app usage has increased 4X in the past 12 months. That number sounds decent until you consider that means a 400% increase in app usage over the course of a year. That’s a massive uptick.
Google also shared some interesting stats from a couple specific apps like Asphalt 8 and Concepts. For Asphalt 8, Google worked with the developers to get keyboard inputs and tablet mode working properly and this resulted in a 6X increase in daily activity and a 9X boost in overall revenue. For Concepts – the fantastic drawing app we covered not too long ago – Google is reporting a 12X boost in time spent in-app and a 2X boost in paid conversions for Chromebook users with those numbers increasing to 20X and 4X respectively for users on Pixelbook and Pixel Slate.
Again, those are great numbers and massive increases for developers to consider when deciding whether or not to truly optimize their apps for Chromebook users. You can check out the entire session in the video below, but I think it is fair to say that Chromebook growth is real, substantial, and these devices and this OS are here to stay.