Google seems to be building up a solid fan base of its Chromebook series, with sales of the computers set to jump 27 percent in 2015 compared with 2014.
The expected rise to around 7.3 million units is largely due to increased interest in the education sector, with Chromebooks set to go up against Apple's iPad in the sector.
"Since the first model launched in mid-2011, Google's Chromebook has seen success mainly in the education segment across all regions," said principal Gartner analyst Isabelle Durand. "In 2014, the education sector purchased 72 percent of Chromebooks in EMEA, 69 percent in Asia/Pacific, and 60 percent in the U.S." EMEA is the regional abbreviation for Europe, the Middle East and Africa often used in business and marketing.
Chromebooks are essentially a lower-cost alternative to laptop computers today, able to keep costs down by sacrificing lots of storage and memory for integration with Google's services, which are largely web-based. The computers are powered by Google's Chrome OS.
Because of their lower cost and emphasis on web integration, they are a great solution for schools; however, they have not really caught on just yet in the business and consumer markets. This is largely due to the fact that they are fairly low-powered and rely on Internet connectivity for much of their features.
"The major factors that affect the adoption of Chromebooks by consumers remain the connectivity issue in emerging markets, but also the ability for users to understand and get used to cloud-based applications, and keep content in the cloud and ecosystem," continued Durand.
According to Gartner, Chromebook sales are as low as they are because of a lack of consumer awareness. Many potential buyers are unaware of the fact that Chromebooks even exist.
Among sales last year, 84 percent of Chromebooks were sold in North America, with the U.S. market being the largest. Another 11 percent were sold in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and less than 3 percent were sold in Asia.
Despite the growth, Chromebooks make up a tiny amount of the 300 million computers expected to ship this year. Chromebook sales are expected to continue to grow in future years as consumers shift their attention to cloud-based apps and services. Even the more tech-savvy among us could use a Chromebook as a secondary device to more full-featured computers. Chromebook adoption could be especially high in the future if Internet connectivity becomes more common in emerging markets, with Chromebooks generally being very low cost.
The largest maker of Chromebooks is Acer, followed by Samsung and HP.