All the way back in December 2010, Google announced the first Chromebook. The Cr-48 was created not for sale, but as a showcase for its Chrome OS running on notebook hardware. A few months later, in May 2011, the first commercially available Chromebooks were announced by Asus and Samsung, before launching in June of that year, and since then, many more such devices have been launched. Most recently, Google announced its own high-end model, the Chromebook Pixel, featuring a high-resolution (2560x1700px) 12.85” touch screen and an eye-watering $1299 price tag.
Google touted Chromebooks as “a new kind of computer”, adding that the quick boot-up, lack of large, complex OS updates and excellent security made them superior to other computers. But have those marketing messages resonated with consumers?
According to Digitimes, the answer to that question is a resounding ‘no’. Citing sources within “Taiwan-based notebook ODMs and vendors”, the site claims that in the 21 months since the first Chromebooks went on sale, fewer than 500,000 units have been sold worldwide, equivalent to under one percent of the total notebook market.
As Google prepares to integrate Chrome OS and Android, the same sources suggest that those plans will take some time to make any impact on the market, pointing to the tiny market share as an indication that “compatibility and consumer usage habits” remain significant obstacles to the potential success of Chromebooks.
The accuracy of the report remains unclear, especially since it comes from the often-wrong Digitimes, so we should take it with a few pinches of salt – but even if the sales figure isn’t entirely accurate, it’s certainly easy to believe. But while Chromebook sales are unlikely to soar with the introduction of the Pixel, the recent announcements that both Lenovo and HP are launching their own Chromebooks will surely bring a welcome boost to the platform's growth.