Google has done well to gain traction in the PC market, which has traditionally been dominated by Microsoft's Windows. While Chrome OS machines still remain a minority product, they have a solid market share. However, Windows' ongoing dominance in the market has continued through the two-year – and still ongoing – chip shortage.
In fact, IDC reports the OEMs who have products on both Chrome OS and Windows are prioritizing Microsoft's platform during the last year. Chromebook shipments fell 63.6% during the fourth quarter compared to the same time period last year. During 2021, PC shipments were their highest since 2012, with 341 million units sold.
IDC Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers research manager Jitesh Ubrani says Chromebook declines are happening for two reasons. Firstly, the demand for Chrome OS devices has is mostly exhausted in Europe and the US. Secondly, vendors are favoring using chips that are in short supply on Windows machines.
“Supply has also been unusually tight for Chromebooks as component shortages have led vendors to prioritize Windows machines due to their higher price tags, further suppressing Chromebook shipments on a global scale,” Ubrani points out.
Chromebooks are more focused on students and budget users. There is not the same business market as Microsoft enjoys with Windows. Most consumers do not replace their laptop every year, so demand for Chromebook's does have a ceiling. Google has made gains in the enterprise space, but Windows remains the dominant OS.
While the chip crisis is easing, the effects of shortages will be felt for at least the remainder of this year. In other words, issues that have been pegging back Chromebook sales are likely to continue. It will be interesting to see if the recent declines signal a downward trend for Chrome OS machines, or whether this is just a minor shift.
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