Chromebooks sell like gangbusters, but the party could be over

Chromebooks sell like gangbusters, but the party could be over

Partly due to the pandemic, laptop shipments increased by about 26% last year and are likely to break records in 2021 by 236 million units, according to the research firm. TrendForce market. This is in contrast to the usual 3% (up or down) movement that has taken place in recent years. Chromebooks have benefited especially from the rise, with shipments reaching a record 47 million units, but the next few quarters may not be as friendly with Chrome OS devices.

From the point of view of PC games, Chromebooks alone are not so interesting: the hardware is too weak to facilitate gaming and the platform (Chrome OS) is also limited in this regard. The best gaming laptops are Windows machines with unobtrusive, simple and straightforward graphics.

However, where the conversation changes is with game streaming services, and in particular with GeForce Now. Nvidia started last year beta testing of GeForce Now on Chromebooks that meet the minimum system requirements, opening the door to ray-traced games … on a Chromebook.

It’s been a while since we tested it (on a 13.3-inch Pixelbook Go with an 8th-generation Intel Core i5 CPU), but with a strong, stable Internet connection, we found that GeForce Now works pretty well in a Chrome OS machine.

That doesn't mean you have to run out and buy a Chromebook. However, many people have done so and for a variety of reasons. According to TrendForce, Chromebook shipments are expected to reach a "surprising" growth rate of 50% year-on-year this year, most of which are shipped to the U.S. (70%) and Japan (10%).

So why the acidic outlook for Chromebooks in the future? There are a few reasons. For one thing, Chromebooks have saturated the education market where they are primarily sold, says TrendForce. Along with the fact that the general public has begun to return to workplaces and schools, the demand for laptops and Chromebooks could be a success.

There are other factors as well.

"It should be noted that some recent rumors claim that the demand for laptops will decrease during 2H21. This decline can be attributed mainly to the fact that laptop brands are finding lower margins on Chromebooks, while the 11.6-inch panels , which are used in 70% of all Chromebook devices, have also skyrocketed and there is a shortage of semiconductor components. " TrendForce says.

Because of this, TrendForce says laptop makers have reduced Chromebook production to avoid running out of significant inventory surplus. They’ve already “over-reserved certain components, which resulted in additional inventory,” so securing yourself a bunch of unsold Chromebooks is something they want to avoid.

According to TrendForce, the first signs of this will come in the fourth quarter of this year, when a 3% reduction in total laptop shipments is expected.

It is not mentioned how this will affect prices. However, if laptop makers end up with a surplus, it’s conceivable that there may be attractive sales during Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday (more than usual). If you're looking for a Chromebook and you're waiting, this might be the best time to attack.

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