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Ballmer’s nightmare: Chromebooks saw huge business sales growth in 2013

Updated 4 years ago
iPad Android Tablet Sales 2013

Despite the rise of Android devices, Apple has managed to keep up its position atop the U.S. tablet market for years. But as 2013 draws to a close, the disparity between the two major players in the market has grown smaller than ever. According to new research from The NPD Group, Android tablet sales in commercial channels in the U.S. jumped more than 160% from 2012, capturing 8.7% of personal computing device sales between January and November this year. Apple did manage to beat out its competition once again, but the iPad’s market share actually decreased from 17.1% last year to 15.8% in 2013. Even with the release of two brand new iPad models, Apple is beginning to feel the pressure from Android and Windows vendors, which are leaving their mark with some solid tablets of their own.

Perhaps the most intriguing item from NPD’s report is that Chromebook sales in U.S. commercial channels burst onto the scene in 2013, with Google’s Chrome OS-powered notebooks accounting for 9.6% of personal computing market unit sales, which was by far the biggest growth in the market this year. That figure is well short of the 34.1% of the market owned by Windows laptop sales, but it crushed notebooks powered by Apple’s OS X. MacBook shipments in the commercial channel declined to 1.8% of the market in 2013, which is down from 2.6% in 2012.

The full press release from The NPD Group follows below.

U.S. Commercial Channel Computing Device Sales Set to End 2013 with Double-Digit Growth, According to NPD

PORT WASHINGTON, NEW YORK, DECEMBER 23, 2013 – Year to date through November 2013, 14.4 million desktops, notebooks, and tablets were sold through U.S. commercial channels, leading to a 25.4 percent increase over 2012, according to The NPD Group’s Distributor Track and Commercial Reseller Tracking Service. This stellar performance follows the 3.1 percent sales increase experienced in 2012

Desktop sales through the channel increased 8.5 percent, notebooks grew 28.9 percent, and tablets jumped 49 percent growth over the same time period in 2012. Windows notebooks* showed no growth over 2012, Windows desktops* increased by nearly 10 percent and Apple sales for notebooks and desktops combined fell by 7 percent.

Chromebooks, and Android tablets collectively had the biggest impact on sales growth, with 1.76 million units going through the channel from January through November of this year, compared to just 400,000 units in 2012.

Chromebooks accounted for 21 percent of all notebook* sales, up from negligible share in the prior year, and 8 percent of all computer and tablet sales through November, up from one tenth of a percent in 2012 – the largest share increase across the various product segments.

Tablet sales captured more than 22 percent of all personal computing device sales sold through the commercial channel through November, Windows tablet sales nearly tripled off a very small base, and Android tablet sales grew more than 160 percent. Apple iPad sales accounted for 59 percent of the volume in the tablet market.

“The market for personal computing devices in commercial markets continues to shift and change,” said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis, NPD. “New products like Chromebooks, and reimagined items like Windows tablets, are now supplementing the revitalization that iPads started in personal computing devices. It is no accident that we are seeing the fruits of this change in the commercial markets as business and institutional buyers exploit the flexibility inherent in the new range of choices now open to them.”

HP led commercial personal computing devices; but even with a 6 percent increase in total notebook sales its small exposure to booming tablet market drove its share down.  Lenovo remained the second largest channel vendor with notebook sales up almost 18 percent and, desktops up 30 percent.  Even with strong tablet growth of over 200 percent Lenovo’s overall unit share remained flat as it too suffered from a lack of presence in the tablet segment. Apple’s dominant position in the tablet market which accounted for more than 80 percent of its commercial sales made it the third largest brand. Samsung, as a result of its rapid expansion of Chromebook and Android tablet sales, was ranked number four.

“Tepid Windows PC sales allowed brands with a focus on alternative form factors or operating systems, like Apple and Samsung, to capture significant share of a market traditionally dominated by Windows devices,” said Baker. “Yet the Windows PC in commercial channels is clearly not dead, and its biggest brand proponents, HP and Lenovo, remain deeply committed to that product. However, as businesses upgrade from older machines and operating systems in the year ahead, the long-term trend is clearly towards greater hardware diversity, which all manufacturers will need to embrace in order to continue to grow.”

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.