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Chromebooks starting to shine?

This wasn’t supposed to happen - at least not according to Microsoft which spent a lot of money on attack marketing in the run-up to the holiday season (see - MS enters into the spirit of Xmas and tries to rip Google's head off). It could be that the MS message that the Chromebook wasn’t a real computer because it couldn’t run Microsoft Office was greeted with a cheery “then that’s the one for me” by a significant portion of the US device-buying public? Perhaps.

Consumer buying numbers are hard to come by but Amazon, without quoting any hard figures, has press released that Acer and Samsung Chromebooks held two of its top three "holiday best sellers" in the US. On Amazon in the UK Samsung’s WiFi Chromebook ranks as ‘most popular’ in the laptop category. That’s at least some evidence that Chromebooks might be starting to surge, but there’s more.

For instance, the Research firm NPD has reported its computer and tablet (computing devices) numbers for 2013 and has charted a surge in Chromebook sales in the ‘commercial’ channel over the year - that’s bulk corporate and (especially it seems in the US) educational buying activity, rather than consumer buying activity. The Chromebook share of the 'commercial channel' in the US has zoomed up from a tiny blip of 0.2 per cent last year to 9.6 per cent this.

Source: NPD Group

That means 21 per cent of the laptops sold for the year ending December 1 2013 in the commercial channel were Chromebooks. That’s a total of 1.76 million units, up from 400,000 in 2012.

The ‘commercial’ market was actually the one Google was originally after with its Chromebooks, which it hoped to sell on a ‘total cost of ownership’ (TCO) basis to large organisations - that effort seems to bearing fruit if the NPD data is anything to go by.

And given that educational computing is a real seed sower for further use of a system in later life (Apple gave itself a solid start in the education market for instance), that must be counted as good news for Goggle, even though it doesn’t necessarily translate into jangling tills for the Christmas just passed.

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