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2020 Was the Best Year Ever for Chromebook

Posted January 30, 2021 | Chrome OS | Chromebook | Windows

Researchers from Canalys claim that hardware makers sold 30.7 million Chromebooks in 2020, the platform’s best year ever. So, Google’s productivity platform accounted for over 10 percent of all personal computers sold last year.

“Demand for Chromebooks is through the roof,” Canalys research director Rushabh Doshi said in a prepared statement. “With many countries being forced to accelerate their digital education plans in the wake of additional lockdowns, schools and universities are clamoring for easy to deploy solutions and Google’s digital offerings for education are proving quite popular over rival platforms, especially in the US and Western Europe.”

According to Canalys, hardware makers sold a record 11.2 million Chromebooks in Q4 2020, the best-ever quarter for the platform, and over 4 times the sales recorded in the year-ago quarter. And they sold 30.7 million Chromebooks in all of 2020. Canalys puts the total size of the PC market in 2020 at 297 million units sold, and I arrived at a very similar figure, 288.9 million units, by averaging data from Gartner and IDC. But either way, Chromebooks accounted for over 10 percent of all personal computers sold in 2020.

HP was the top seller of Chromebooks with 3.5 million units sold in the fourth quarter, Canalys says, and sales were up 235 percent year-over-year (YOY). Lenovo was in second place with 2.8 million units sold and 1766 percent (!) growth. Acer and Dell both shipped about 1.5 million units. And Samsung landed in fifth place with just over one million units sold, up 630 percent.

Canalys says that demand for Chromebooks “is expected to remain strong through 2021.” Helping matters, the firm also claims that the platform has seen rising interest from outside of the education market, including consumers and traditional commercial customers that are “seeking out Chromebooks to ensure affordable continuity of business or personal computing.”

Canalys also noted that the tablet market experienced big growth in 2020 as well, with sales hitting an all-time high of 52.8 million units in the fourth quarter and 160.6 million units in all of 2020; that latter figure is 28 percent higher than in 2019. Apple sold almost 20 million of those tablets, the best performance for iPad since 2014. (Interesting that this almost exactly mirrors the PC growth experience in 2020, where sales were higher than any year since 2015.) Samsung (9.9 million units), Amazon (6.5 million), Lenovo (5.6 million), and Huawei (3.5 million) round out the top five.

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