Report: Chromebook Sales Fell Through the Floor in Q2

Posted on July 31, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Chrome OS, Chromebook, Mobile with 21 Comments

Tablet sales are flat and PC sales are down, but IDC reports that Chromebook sales have fallen the hardest of all, with an incredible 51.4 percent year-over-year decline.

So is this game over for Chrome OS? IDC says no.

“While Chromebook shipments have trended down in the past few quarters, there’s still [an] opportunity to be had as the pandemic has brought about positive changes to Chrome adoption,” IDC’s Jitesh Ubrani says. “The need for remote learning accelerated schools’ plans to reach a 1:1 ratio for PCs to students and this ratio will likely continue to hold in the future and even if PC shipments decline in other categories, Chrome will continue at these elevated levels.”

The Chromebook market is tiny, based on IDC’s numbers, with just 6 million units sold in the second quarter, and not all of those sales went to end users yet. By comparison, IDC claims hardware makers sold 40.5 million tablets in the same time period.

And the top five Chromebook makers all experienced double-digit YOY unit sales declines. Dell is now the biggest maker of Chromebooks, with 1.5 million sold in Q2, a decline of 15.5 percent, and Acer is number two with 1.3 million units (down 28.9 percent). Lenovo (1.2 million, down 54 percent), HP (900,000, down 78.6 percent), and Samsung (400,000, down 57.3 percent) round out the top five.

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Comments (21)

21 responses to “Report: Chromebook Sales Fell Through the Floor in Q2”

  1. wright_is

    I think part of the problem for Chromebook sales was that, when the pandemic hit, companies were suddenly buying thousands of laptops for their office staff, so they could work from home. At one point, the only laptops available from HP, Dell and Lenovo were Chromebooks, or you had to wait 2-3 months for delivery of a Windows laptop.

    Where customers could make-do with a Chromebook, they took them as a case of “better than nothing”.

    In education, it was similar, as long as it could run Teams or Zoom video conferences, it was pretty much immaterial, what operating system was running on the device. Likewise, portals for coursework were quickly thrown together and they generally worked in any browser, so, again, Chromebooks were an option.

    Now things are returning to normal, companies and education can’t get what they need, as opposed to Hobson’s Choice. Now they are looking at what exactly they need.

    In Europe, Google, Microsoft and Amazon are having a hard time with their cloud offerings, especially in Education. Microsoft 365, Google Workspace and Co. have been deemed illegal for educational use, because it exports information about minors outside the EU boundaries, a big no-no.

    That would also go for Chromebooks, which have to have a Google Account behind them. Devices with local administration, E.g. Windows Domain PCs don’t suffer from that problem, because all information is held on the local network.

    NRW banned all Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Apple cloud offerings from use in educational establishments. Until now, they were theoretically not allowed, but there was no real alternative. Now they have their own regional educational cloud offering built up on open source solutions, such as Big Blue Button or Jitsi for video conferencing.

    That decision means that not only do all those M365 accounts have to be deleted, but also any Chromebooks that can’t be changed to running a local account, instead of a Google account won’t be acceptable, going forward.

    • ebraiter

      Where I work with 60,000+ employees world wide, a very large chunk have laptops.

      I've had a laptop [on my third] since I started with the company.

      We do not tough Chromebricks at all. Just not worth the hassle to support.

  2. ringofvoid

    Towards the beginning of the pandemic, Google expanded the Automatic Update Expiration from 3 years max to up-to-7-years. I suspect that this combined with the rush to get learn-from-home laptops explains much of the slowdown. Most people who were in the market for a Chromebook just bought one & it's still supported for several years.

    Chromebooks run a spectrum from ultra-low end $100 doorbuster specials to $1000+ powerhouses. Much like Windows and MacOS the OS has a sweet spot of RAM that manufacturers frequently fail to hit causing low-end devices to, well, suck. For ChromeOS, 4GB RAM is the starting point for good performance & 8GB is the sweet spot. Assuming you purchase a device in that range, it'll be, at worst, good for Chrome browser use for the lifetime of the device &, at best, also good for Android & Linux apps for the lifetime of the device

  3. leoaw

    I had the original Lenovo Chromebook Duet for a couple of years. I recently exchanged it for the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 with 8GB of RAM. I'm enjoying it and find it speedy and excellent for typing while it rests on my lap. The screen is an optimum size for me. The Duet 3 that just came out looks interesting, but I'd wait until they release the 8GB version. The Duets are 32-bit processors. I haven't investigated what I'm missing out (if anything) on not having a 64-bit processor in them.

    • ebraiter

      So you just showed that your original Chromebrick is slow while the minimum Windows computer is generally 8GB and is pretty fast for your typical user.

    • fishingbait

      The Acer Chromebook Spin 513 2H has a 64 bit CPU (MediaTek Kompanio 1380).

  4. Mike Brady

    Maybe this slowdown explains why I was able to get a very good deal on an Acer Chromebook on an Amazon Treasure Truck deal. If all you want is a web browser and streaming video player with long battery life in a lightweight package, it's not bad. I use it for what it is. It's not a replacement for my PCs.

    • fishingbait

      It's not a replacement for my PCs.

      I have replaced all my Windows laptops with Chromebooks. All that remains are 2 desktops (a NUC that I use as a media server and a 10th gen Intel Core i5 that I use for programming) and the latter will be replaced with an upcoming MSI Chromebox. Between Linux, Android apps and PWAs there is very little that I ever did on Windows and macOS that can't be done on ChromeOS.

  5. darkoverlordofdata

    Now that more adults have seen them, I wonder how many will buy a 2nd. Or buy one for their child.

    I got the Lenovo Duet. Overall it's a nice machine, and a good price point. But it has 2 major major flaws:

    a) The marketing says it has a 1920x1200 display. When I plug it into my BenQ, I actually have a limit of 1280x800. That sucks.

    b) Many android apps don't install - for example Microsoft Office. I get the 'not available for your device' message. But it's got pretty much the same cpu as my phone where it does install. So I can't really use it for what I bought it for. Double suck.

    I know I won't buy another one!

    • ringofvoid

      Chromebook manufacturers do a terrible job of communicating external monitor support. Intel based Chromebooks tend towards excellent external monitor support while ARM based Chromebooks tend to be much more limited. Microsoft updated their Microsoft Office policies earlier this year to remove the Android version from Chromebooks to force users over to the web version (PWA) that's supposed to be getting more love. I think the web version could still use a lot more love

      • fishingbait

        This depends on the ARM CPU being used. The monitor support is terrible if it is an older MediaTek processor, because those were actually repurposed smartphone SOCs. If it is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c, Qualcomm Snapdragon 8c or a newer MediaTek SOC - meaning CPUs actually designed for PCs and not phones - the monitor support is much better.

  6. spacecamel

    It would seem to me that Chromebooks are mostly a school product and no one buys their kid a Chromebook when school is ending. Also, I wonder how many sales were lost when Google released Chrome Flex?

    • ebraiter

      I agree. I spoke to a student and he has been using a Chromebrick at high school. The problem is that the vast majority if the business world uses Windows & Macs [and Linux] and MS Office is still king.

  7. Donte

    No one I have ever met that has used them really likes them. We tried one year at work to replace our loaner laptops with Chromebooks. The users simply hated them. We had about a dozen spare Acer Chromebooks, brand new in the box that we could NOT give away. Finally, they went out with the e-waste pickup one month, still in the original box.

    My kids used them at school, nothing but hate. Many of the kids just used their smartphones.

  8. jaboonday

    My goal in life is to get my kids to sneer and frown upon Chromebooks like their ol' dad. When my son first got into elementary school and they suggested we buy Chromebooks for him for schoolwork my first though was "Why? The teachers use Windows machines, so why are you pushing Chromebooks on these kids?" I got him an HP laptop instead, and now he uses a 1st gen Surface Book I bought for him on Ebay. He likes it a lot. My younger son uses my newer Surface Book 2 (also bought on Ebay) so they can play Minecraft together. My niece came to visit us this summer and had me trying to help her with something on her computer. When she pulled it out and I saw that funky ChromeOS on it I almost jokingly threw it in the trash. WE ARE A NO CHROMEBOOK FAMILY. Don't be bringin' that junk up in here!

  9. geoff

    Chromebooks are cheap, but horrible.

    If a student gets one, then over time they learn just how bad they are. So the *next* device they get is always a Windows or Apple laptop.

    What gets me is that schools still con parents into getting one Chromebook at the start of that journey. It's just a waste of time and money - you'll buy your kid a proper device sooner or later anyway.

    • wright_is

      They aren't necessarily cheap, you can get equally well specified ones to Windows laptops in the mid-range ($700-$1500), they aren't cheap or slow.

      But, just like educational Windows laptops, there are very low end devices which are a poor experience... I'd guess, if you have a $300 Windows laptop, you'd be just as disappointed in the experience as you would with a $300 Chromebook - if not more so.

      • rm

        But at least Windows computers have some nice additions like a Backspace key! Chromebooks fall short in a lot of small ways. Death of a thousand small cuts. My kids have Windows 2-in-1 computers with mid-range i5 CPUs and they are so much better than a Chromebook which locks you into a single browser. No single browser works for all web sites. I could go on a long time . . .

  10. obarthelemy

    I finally bought a Chromebook for my own enlightment, to check what it is all about. I'm rather disappointed:

    1- Physically, I made the mistake of buying a 16:9 tablet. 16:9 on a tablet is almost as bad as 20:9 on a phone; useful for one thing (resp: videos, and tiktok) and one thing only, and bad for all other uses. Also, I don't know if it's a ChromeOS limitation or Lenovo being lazy, but Lenovo's Android tablets have smart features that are missing from their Chromebooks: tap-to-wake, battery protection. Having to hunt for the on/off button to wake my Chromebooks feels neanderthalian. As does having to monitor the battery to try and stay in the recommended 20%-80% range.

    2- 1st party apps also feel dated and clunky. Google's is the only video player I know that can't adjust volume and brightness with swipes, you've got to (again) hunt for the button, and the system setting shortcuts. Also, there's no "media player" app, apprently it's called... Photo ?

    On the plus side, Android apps mostly run well (not VLC). Yeah Firefox ! Only they launch slowly, w/ no indication the launching is in progress. I never thought I'd miss a spinning hourglass, but being left in the lurch is actually worse ?

    3- My biggest fear is realized: ChromeOS is different / bad-ish / old-feeling enough to be jarring. I can't recommend it to mobile-first people not technical enough to graduate to Windows (seniors, kids). Android is a lot more polished, versatile, and easy. While Google went to the trouble of launching a whole new OS+ecosystem instead of making a polished, safe, managed LTS version of Android is beoynd me. ChromeOS has managed to make me slightly doubtful about Fuchsia. What were they thinking ?

  11. TJ

    I am on my 3rd Chromebook. The first 2 were Acer and I wore them out. The support ran out and now I have the Google Pixelbook go. I love them because they are so FAST!

    I have a windows laptop. Everytime I have to fool with it and it chugs along, I get up leave the desk go outside walk the dog come back still updating. Just tried to join a zoom meeting and it appears they are not supporting chrome operating systems. I cant figure out how to get zoom working again. But you guys who hate chrome must be used to sitting waiting and waiting. oh lord.