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1/29/2013
03:12 PM
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Chromebooks Actually Selling, Acer Says

Laptops running Google's browser-based operating system are resonating with buyers.

Google's Chromebook gamble is beginning to pay off. Acer, one of Google's Chrome OS hardware partners, has reported that Chromebooks accounted for 5% to 10% of the company's U.S. computer shipments since the company released its C7 Chromebook in November.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Acer president Jim Wong said he expected that sales ratio to continue and that the company is considering adding other Chromebook models.

IDC's preliminary estimate for Acer's U.S. PC shipments during Q4 2012 is 803,000 (the final number is due next month). Gartner's number is a higher, at 1,377,824. And it was a particularly bad quarter for PC sales. IDC noted that "the launch of Windows 8, its impact did not quickly change recently sluggish PC demand" and that for the first time in five years, the PC market saw a year-on-year decline during holiday season.

[ Google is again under fire for playing loose with privacy. Read Google Faces Safari Privacy Claim In U.K. ]

An Acer spokeswoman confirmed Wong's remarks, but declined to provide specific U.S. sales numbers. She said, "Chrome sales in the U.S. market for November and December accounted for 5-10% of Acer's U.S. sales during those two months." The company's November and December U.S. sales probably account for about two-thirds of its total U.S. PC shipments during the three-month quarter, or somewhere between 538,010 (IDC) and 923,142 (Gartner).

So that 5-10% figure falls into the range of 26,900 Chromebooks on the low end to 92,314 Chromebooks on the high end, assuming we equate PC shipments to PC sales. In reality, some of those shipments remain on retailers' shelves unsold. All told, these are not massive numbers, but they're a bit better than the 5,000-unit Acer Cromia 700 sales figure reported by Taiwan-based Digitimes in November 2011.

How times have changed. During Google's recent earnings call, CEO Larry Page said the Samsung Chromebook was "a holiday highlight," but he did not report any sales figures. The company's Chromebook hardware partners Acer and Samsung have been equally circumspect, until now.

However, as Page hinted, Samsung's third-generation Chromebook appears to have sold well over the holiday season and is still doing so. It remains atop the Amazon laptop best seller list, having spent the last 103 days in the top 100.

Perhaps more telling is the fact that more hardware partners are working with Google. Lenovo earlier this month introduced a ruggedized ThinkPad Chromebook for schools. And marketing material uncovered by online news site Slashgear indicates that HP is planning to announce a Chromebook next month, on February 17.

Google and HP declined to comment. But you can read the writing on the wall: There's a market for inexpensive laptops that aren't vulnerable to most malware, that don't have to be updated constantly, that boot quickly and that don't put data at risk by storing it locally.

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Mike_Acker
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Mike_Acker,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/30/2013 | 3:59:40 PM
re: Chromebooks Actually Selling, Acer Says
the industry has learned that if you set up a computer such that any program updates are allowed you are going to have a hackers' paradise . that idea doesn't work. for anyone other than the hacker .

approved app libraries seem to be a good approach .
Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/30/2013 | 6:01:15 PM
re: Chromebooks Actually Selling, Acer Says
I was given a free Chromebook on a flight to use a few months ago as a promotional thing for the duration of the flight, it was pretty underwhelming
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
1/30/2013 | 7:03:25 PM
re: Chromebooks Actually Selling, Acer Says
My kids use them and as the defacto family admin, Chromebooks have proven to be less trouble to manage than Macs or Windows machines.
Johnnythegeek
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Johnnythegeek,
User Rank: Strategist
1/31/2013 | 1:00:29 PM
re: Chromebooks Actually Selling, Acer Says
While I think Chromebooks make for a OK experience as a second device. I think much of its sales drive is due to people seeing these Chromebooks as they did Netbooks. A sort of in between device for web surfing. But again as with Netbooks. The buyers expectation might not be inline with what a Chromebook can provide. After all if you run any kind of Windows program like a iTunes or Office or games even. I think your going to find that Chromebooks again are going to be restrictive. Your basically buying into another eco system of apps through Google.
Maybe you can deal with that maybe not. But again I think price has attractive many to Chromebooks. Not sure if that's enough to continue their market increase. A lot of consumers I am sure are very much not going to really understand a Chromebooks limitations until they use it for a while.
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