According to the Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report, notebook PC shipments will reach 167M in 2014, an 8% Y/Y decline. The reasons for the decline are mainly the maturity of the notebook PC market, slowdown in Windows 8 replacement, and in the consumer market, low-priced tablet PCs. However, the Google Chromebook PC may have a rejuvenating effect on the notebook PC market.

Chromebooks target very different users from traditional notebook PCs, including the education market, small-medium businesses, and those looking for an affordable device for web surfing. With the strong backing of Google for the Chrome OS, as well as its approach to creating a unified experience across Android, Chrome and its search engine, the benefits of Chromebooks include:

  • Low purchase price , savings on maintenance, management and administration
  • Total IT service: 24/7 support on hardware and software
  • Built-in security
  • Seamless sync, and ease of collaboration through cloud computing
  • Automatic upgrade of apps and software

As published in the Quarterly Mobile PC Value Chain & Insight Report, we forecast that there will be a 144% rise in sales of Chromebooks in 2014, to 8 million units. While far lower than Google’s planned 20 million units for 2014, Chromebooks are likely to achieve 5% penetration of the notebook PC market. In 2013, more than 80% of Chromebooks were shipped to the North America market.

As Chromebook PC demand increases, and as Google focuses on selling into some of Microsoft’s core markets, we anticipate that Google will gain some advantage in the notebook PC market. ASUS and other brands, and several OEMs are developing Chromebooks, in order to gain a foothold in this growing market.

Chromebook PC Business Plan by Brand (Million Units)

Chromebook PC Business Plan by Brand

Source: NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly Mobile PC Value Chain & Insight Report

Looking forward, we can see additional developments in Chromebooks, especially with new features of Chrome OS version 34 including:

  • A side dock that allows users to dock small windows and panels at the edges of the screen. Windows are all automatically managed in this mode.
  • Sticky keys that allows you to perform keyboard shortcuts and mouse+keyboard gestures by pressing the keys in sequence instead of simultaneously.
  • Onscreen keyboard that allows you to type and use the device’s features (top row) with a pointing device.

Meanwhile, Google has added touch to Chrome OS. As a result, some PC brands like HP, Dell, and Acer will offer Chromebooks with touch functions (HP’s 13.3″, Dell’s 11.6” and 13.3″, and Acer’s 11.6“). Also, the side dock feature can be used with the 2-in-1 PC design. In coming years, Google will aggressively promote 2-in-1 Chromebook PCs with touch functions.