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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Mac News > IDC: Chromebook shipments outpace Mac in US for first quarter

IDC: Chromebook shipments outpace Mac in US for first quarter
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May 20, 2016, 08:37 AM
Shipments of Chromebooks have outpaced those of Macs for the first time in the United States, according to information from an analytics firm. IDC analyst Linn Huang advised the cheap notebooks using Chrome OS "overtook Mac OS in the US in terms of shipments for the first time" in the first quarter of this year by its own estimates, though the analyst stopped short of advising by how much of a margin Chromebooks were in the lead.

The higher shipments appears to be drawn from education sales, rather than to the general public, with Huang telling The Verge "Chromebooks are still largely a US K-12 story." The low cost and the device management options available for Chromebooks makes them an attractive prospect to educational customers, though it is unclear if a similar effect is being felt in other regions, as analysts typically only focus on the US market.

According to figures released last month by IDC and Gartner over US shipment estimates, Apple was ranked in fourth place with between 1.67 and 1.77 million Mac shipments in the first quarter. While the figures do not divides shipments by operating system, the nature of Apple's shipments means the other vendors on the list must have collectively shipped more Chromebooks than Apple's total.

Considering that Apple's shipments remain steady while the PC market as a whole continues to contract, it is likely the higher Chromebook shipments come at the expense of Windows systems.
( Last edited by NewsPoster; May 23, 2016 at 06:48 PM. )
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May 20, 2016, 09:42 AM
Chromebook makes a lot sense for educational market. I love Mac but they are way expensive for kids and school (Mac/iPad at school = parents raising more money). Windows on the other hand are high maintenance. My son's school utilizes Google Drive heavily and Chromebook will fit the task and bill. Today textbook all has digital version. Not all teachers are aware of it. Some do and I am able to download them and view them in any platforms (for iPad, there's an app for it). Chromebook will have no issue viewing them. Not every parents have the budget to dump MacBook on every kids.
( Last edited by coffeetime; May 20, 2016 at 09:53 AM. )
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May 20, 2016, 09:49 AM
One note about the article and a comment: the author talks about Chromebooks "shipped" which means how many are stuffed in the channel.

Apple doesn't report on notebooks shipped, only computers SOLD, a big difference. And with new notebooks coming soon, Apple is understandably reducing channel inventory.

So this is probably a blip based on best guesses by an analyst.

Second, my kids' high school has Chromebooks and they think they're junk. But schools buy them because they're cheap ways to do very basic tasks. Tasks that IT people love to think about but students' (particularly creative ones), don't care for.

I asked them if they would consider a Chromebook for personal use and they said "no way".

Apparently they want to do more than just browse the web and use Google Docs. In fact, they don't use Google Docs at all if they can avoid it - they prefer to use more polished apps like Pages.

It's another one of those things where a centralized deciding body is tantalized by price and features but real users when given the choice, select something else.

We went through this in the 90's and early 2000's until BYOD (bring your own device) because big and is continuing to grow.
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May 20, 2016, 10:23 AM
The sting of low quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.
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May 20, 2016, 01:06 PM
Chromebooks are really a mixed bag. I've only occasionally used them, but the one I time I set one up for a user it was incredibly easy - far, far easier than setting up a Mac would have been (and remember, I setup Macs all the time. First time setting up a Chromebook and it was easier, even for me). On the other hand it has a lot more limitations than, say, a MacBook Air would have, and certainly won't last as long. Since I work with schools I'm also privy to setup procedures for various pieces of equipment, and you do NOT want to be doing standardized testing (something I am completely opposed to btw) on Chromebooks OR iPads (at least in my area), because the setup procedures are cripplingly complex and time-consuming. You really want full-fledged computers for the students to test on (setup time is easily 4x as complex and time-consuming for Chromebooks and iPads as it is for Macs / Windows). So money saved using Chromebooks over Macs may simply come back to bite. Longevity is another issue of course. One school I work with routinely is still using, daily, 16 out of 20 2006 MacBooks (and two of the others with broken screens have been re-tasked as a file-server and node in a guest WiFi network). That's tremendous, absolutely tremendous, reliability and durability. I when I say "used daily" I don't mean set on a table. I mean grabbed, from a charging cart, by students, carried around, and really used. Other than the usual HDD failures (I simply replaced all the HDDs with SSDs a couple summers back) they have been fantastic. Same school still uses 25 of their original 30ish 2006 iMacs also (primary issue with these is now PSU failures). I think it will be lucky to get 3 or 4 good years out of a Chrombook because most of them are not upgradable and are built to be as cheap as possible at the time, but I guess we will have to see... Unfortunately, Apple themselves deliberately eliminates part of the longevity / reliability advantage by obsoleting equipment for no good reason (these systems are now better support by Microsoft on Windows 10, which runs EXTREMELY well on them, than they are by Apple who officially abandoned them years ago. I'm sorry, but if Apple's programmers can't figure out how to support their own hardware, while Microsoft can, then Apple needs to hire new programmers). It's a shame to see Apple losing share to Chromebooks, but they have to realize that their policies may also be partly to blame. If I'm worried that Apple might abandon my hardware, regardless of it's continued usefulness, then I'm less inclined to recommend their equipment without reservation. Suddenly it makes cheaper devices look more appealing; "Well, Apple might not support this anyway, so why spend the extra $$$?"
Charles Martin
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May 20, 2016, 01:27 PM
Pajandrum: thanks for that insightful comment, we really appreciate our readers' sharing their expertise to help give greater context to stories.
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May 20, 2016, 05:47 PM
This actually doesn't surprise me that much. It seems like an IT-type's dream (IT depts rarely care much about user-experience***). It's all about budget and ease for the IT dept. And, panjandrum you might well be right about the standardized testing. It probably does what's needed for that, and that's all the admins care about. Cheap... meets the present-day requirements... done/sold.

re: "I'm sorry, but if Apple's programmers can't figure out how to support their own hardware, while Microsoft can, then Apple needs to hire new programmers..."

Absolutely. Apple is not doing their success in this sector any favors. It's to their short-term advantage to keep narrowing the useful life of their product line now the the focus is on spreadsheets vs user experience. It's the 'new' Apple doing it's best work. But, yea, they *ALSO* need new programmers, as I think they lost many of the crucial ones they once had, or moved them to iOS. So, maybe the problem actually is new programmers (as in 'green').

*** When I worked for a Fortune 100, when I first stared there, our team was like a rebel-unit. We pretty much did our own IT, and picked our own stuff. It was great! We were incredibly productive, yet had the budget to get the best stuff. As our little project (the website for this massive retailer) became more core (i.e.: the folks in the highest places finally realized this Web thing was something core to the business), we were also pulled more into alignment with the big corporate IT department. (These folks, um, disliked Macs, and while they allowed Mac hardware, forced everyone they could to run Windows. Luckily, many of the things I needed to do were Mac based, so I was allowed to keep OSX on my MacBook Pro, as were a number of the developers.) That said, they started forcing many of the corporate tools, including email (Lotus Notes) on everyone. Productivity, at least as far as I could tell, dropped. Everything was about budget, not user-experience. I know it's a balancing act, in that they can't just let everyone do their own thing or put the absolute best stuff on everyone's desk (or can they?), but I think even a big IT department *should* focus on UX... it's just not the way big departmentalized companies work.
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