PC and Tablets Sales to U.S. K-12

The Wall Street Journal published an article titled “Chromebooks Take Other Mobile PCs to School” which cited estimates of laptop and tablet sales to U.S. K-12 schools.

This compares to data that was released from the NPD group late last year. The NPD group data was for PC (desktop and laptop) and tablet sales through “U.S. commercial channels” (sales through VAR that are mostly targeted towards education, government and corporations). I have previously commented on the NPD data on this blog (1, 2, 3).

The NPD Group data and following discussions pointed to the following;

  1. Chromebooks are mostly selling to education.
  2. Chromebooks are competing with iPads or expanding the market. They are not taking the market from Windows.
  3. The NPD data is for computers sold to schools through VARs, not to students. The computers are strictly the property of the schools and hence purchase is not an end-user decision. In Steve Jobs’ words, these are sales through “orifices”.

Here I would like to take a look at the FutureSource data that the WSJ cites to better understand the picture.


The FutureSource data seems to confirm the following;

  1. Chromebooks are indeed selling well to education.
  2. iPads are currently extremely strong in education. Much more so than Windows. It is understandable that the main battleground is iPad vs. Chromebooks and not Windows vs. Chromebooks.

Additionally, it seems that Android tablets are non-existent in schools.

As for the comments in the WSJ article that are in favor of the Chromebooks, they are interestingly from the school IT departments: the “orifices”.

One fan is Kyle Laauser, the information technology director at Saint Joseph Academy,

Explaining the purchase, Mr. Laauser pointed to the devices’ low price, $279 each including a $30 setup fee paid to Google, as well as the ease with which he could set them up for the entire student body.

All in all, the WSJ article seems to be in good agreement with the NPD data and the ensuing discussions.

Chromebooks Are Competing With iPads

Gregg Keizer of ComputerWorld wrote an article that corrected the misinformation spread by many journalists/bloggers a few weeks ago regarding Chromebooks sales in the “commercial channel”.

The initial report by Stephen Baker of NPD was released on December 23rd, 2013 and mentioned that Chromebooks accounted for 21% of all U.S. notebook sales through the commercial channel for the first 11 months of 2013. The important word is “commercial channel”. Stephen Baker defines the commercial channel as follows;

Baker defined the commercial channel as the distributors — like CDW and Ingram Micro — that many businesses, government agencies, schools and other organizations use to buy personal computers and other devices. His data did not include consumer sales, nor PCs sold by OEMs, such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard, directly to businesses.

I analyzed Baker’s data to find that “commercial channel” is only a fraction of total PC sales in the U.S., and that this report does not directly show Chromebooks gaining popularity in the mainstream market.

The question is then, what does this report mean for the mainstream market. Stephen Baker provides some clues;

“On the subject of Chromebooks versus clamshell notebooks, I don’t subscribe to the idea that [the former] are taking sales from Windows,” Baker said. “In my view, they are just as likely, actually more likely, to be taking sales from Android tablets or iPads, or just expanding the market than they are taking sales from Windows PCs in these business-to-business and education markets.”

What Mr. Baker is saying is that education customers who eventually deploy Chromebooks were not looking at Chromebooks vs. Windows but rather Chromebooks vs. iPad. The decision was whether to purchase large numbers of Chromebooks or whether to purchase iPads. A simple Google search actually pulls up a lot of educators discussing this topic. It apparently boils down to Chromebooks having a physical keyboard, and iPads having a much more immersing experience.

The reference to “expanding the market” is probably about schools deploying computers on a scale so that each student has a computer of their own. This apparently has only become possible with the large reductions in hardware costs and is now a reality for an increasing number of schools. Growing the market is likely referring to how iPads and Chromebooks are helping to make this happen.

As to whether gaining a foothold in the education market will eventually enable Chromebooks to move up-market into general-purpose computing devices, there is very little precedent for that. Apple used to be very popular in education, but that didn’t help it grow market share in businesses or consumer markets.

Why the Chromebook is not a Low-End Disruption

Do Chromebooks fill the criteria for a low-end disruption? Can we expect the Chromebooks to eventually move upmarket and disrupt the PC industry? Since we have seen Chromebooks make some success in some markets, these are valid questions to ask.

First of all, there is no denying that Chromebooks are low-end. They are typically priced lower than Windows laptops (although the price difference is not very large), and the cheaper Chromebooks have lower specs. However, low-price alone does not qualify a product as a low-end disruption.

Let’s look at a few more attributes that we should find in a product that causes low-end disruption.

Is the current market overshooting?

In terms of performance, Chromebooks and low-end Wintel laptops both use Intel Celeron processors. There are some exceptions that use an ARM, but these are mostly coming from Samsung which makes their own ARM-based CPUs. They also have 2GB of RAM which is the same as a low-end Windows laptop. The main difference seems to be whether they use a HD with hundreds of Gigabytes of storage, or whether they use a fast SSD with only tens of Gigabytes of storage. Storage seems to be the only area where Chromebooks can skimp on hardware relative to Wintel machines.

Given that the hardware specifications of a Chromebook and a low-end Wintel laptop are almost identical, it is hard to argue that the Chromebooks are targeting a market that is over-served by Wintel. You could argue that Chromebooks are faster than Wintel due to the use of SSD, and that probably is very true. This would however suggest that Chromebooks are “sustaining innovations” relative to Wintel that are playing in the low-end market segment.

Is the price differential large enough to attract new customers?

Although the cost for an OEM to install Windows on a computer is confidential, it is probably not large enough to make a free operating system like Chrome OS a game changer. For example, the cheapest Chromebook on Amazon.com is the Acer C720 for $199 with a Intel Celeron 2955U 1.4 GHz CPU and 2GB of RAM. On the Windows side, you can get an ASUS 1015E laptop with an Intel Celeron 847 1.1 GHz CPU and 2GB of RAM for $299 or a ASUS VivoBook X200CA with an Intel Celeron 1007U 1.5GHz CPU and 2GB of RAM for $300.

The price difference of $100 is substantial at this low price, but it is not large enough to expand the market. I doubt that people willing to pay $200 will find $300 abominable. Hence people looking at Chromebooks will also be interested in Windows. Chromebooks are not creating a new market for consumers who couldn’t previously afford a laptop. They are simply marketed to the same customers as a cheaper alternative.

Therefore Chromebooks are not competing with non-consumption. Instead they are competing head-on with the incumbent, and that is always difficult.

Is the simplicity enough to attract new customers?

Some people argue that Chromebooks are much simpler than Wintel computers or Macs. That may or may not be the case, depending on the tasks that you need to get done. This is not however the question that should be asked.

What needs to be addressed is whether or not the increased simplicity is enough to target non-consumption. In other words, will those people who previously did not buy laptops due to the complexity, buy Chromebooks by virtue of the improved simplicity. Will the increased simplicity create a new market which Chromebooks can uniquely target?

That was certainly the case for the iPad. Small children and seniors are very comfortable with the iPad. Significant numbers of people who didn’t use personal computers before can now use iPads because of the much improved simplicity.

Now, is this the case with Chromebooks? I strongly doubt it.

What are the jobs-to-be-done?

When you compare the jobs-to-be-done of Chromebooks and Wintel laptops, Chromebooks are simply a subset.

Both require you to be sitting at your desk or at least have your computer on your lap. This is very different from iPads and smartphones which can be used comfortably even when you are standing up, lying down or reclining on the sofa. Hence Chromebooks will be used when you are at work or studying. Not when you are relaxing or only have a couple of minutes of free time. They won’t be used much for reading e-books, watching videos, etc. You can easily see that the usage scenarios for Chromebooks completely overlap with Wintel laptops.

Hence Chromebooks are competing directly with Wintel for the same jobs-to-be-done. Here again, they are fighting the incumbent head on.


In summary, Chromebooks are unlikely to succeed as a low-end disruption because they are competing head on against the incumbent in almost every way. Although the incumbent (Wintel) is weakened compared to its heyday, they successfully deflected the Netbook-Linux threat and are still formidable competitors. Wintel has also always addressed the low-end, and has never fled up-market. Chromebooks are not significantly more low-end than the market Wintel is already competing in so we can expect Wintel to quickly address any threats. I find it unlikely that Chromebooks are enough to disrupt.

iPads vs. Chromebooks Illustrates how Apple and Google are Different

There is a lot of talk on the web about how successful the Chromebooks are starting to be (or if they are successful at all). I have discussed this at length in this blog (although mainly in Japanese), and my conclusion as of now is that success is limited to education. As Ben Bajarin informed me via Twitter, most Chromebooks are being used as digital textbooks, so to speak.

Searching the web, the main allure of Chromebooks in an educational environment seem to be;

  1. Price of device.
  2. Ease of administration.
  3. Availability of a keyboard (compared to iPads).

In other metrics like the number of educational applications, Chromebooks fall behind Windows.

Given the above situation, the innovation in Chromebooks can be summarized as follows;

  1. Chromebooks are an “efficiency” innovation. They aim to reduce the price of personal computers (including cost of administration) in education.
  2. Chromebooks are targeting the “low-end”, trading off features for price. The assumption is that the capability of current day computers are overshooting educational requirements and that Chromebooks are “good-enough”. Whether Chromebooks can succeed as a “low-end disruption” is dependent on whether this assumption is true.

This approach is very similar to how Google approached office software suites with Google Docs and even Android.

In both cases, Google has simply done the following;

  1. Imitate the incumbent.
  2. Reduce the price.

Chromebooks are simply normal laptops with a browser focus. Removal of baggage has improved the experience for some tasks, but for the most part, Chromebooks are just another laptop. They are hardly the re-think of computing that iPads were.

Google Docs is essentially an underpowered Office suite. The user interface closely mimics MS-Office but a lot of the features aren’t there. There are also some collaborative features which are an improvement on what MS-Office already provided, but the main appeal is indisputably the price.

Contrast this to what iPads have enabled in education. There are many examples, but I will refer to an article that I came by this morning which discusses the many hurdles for adopting technology in the classroom (which clearly shows that computers in education are hardly “good enough”), but also illustrates the benefits.

iPads in the classroom: Not a bust, but not yet a boon

In the meantime, Cisneros notices how iPads help students new to the English language open up. She listened to a recording they did as they told stories about illustrations that were uploaded to their tablets.

“These students never speak in class,” Cisneros says. “But I hear them in the recording, telling these stories and providing all these elaborate details.”

Cisneros also uses the iPad to transport them to different places. Recently, she arranged for her students to meet first-graders in a special education class at Esplanade Elementary in Orange, Calif., via the iPad. One student used Braille to read a story to Cisneros’ class.

“My students were mesmerized, watching her hands move over the pages,” Cisneros said. “I got chills.”

This is “empowering” innovation.

Google’s hope is that by imitating current technology and making it free, more people will use it. The assumption is that price is the major barrier. They overcome this barrier by either subsidizing the price with their profits from the search business, or apply “efficiency” innovations.

Apple’s approach is that price is not the major barrier. They assume the barrier is simplicity. To overcome this barrier, they rethink and remake the product to make it simple. This result is an “empowering” innovation.

If Google had existed around the time Apple created the Apple I, I imagine Google would have worked to reduce its price by sacrificing margins. Their target would be hardware hobbyists who were short of money. What Apple did was to create the Apple II, thereby empowering people whom were not hardware hobbyists to experience personal computing.


Chromebookの話題を続けたので(1, 2, 3, 4)、いったんChromebookの歴史を振り返ってみたいと思います。情報のソースはWikipediaの記事。これに当時の状況を追加して考えてみたいと思います。

Chrome OSが開発されたのは、まだiPadが登場していなかった頃

Chrome OSが発表されたのは2009年の7月です。このときはまだNetbookが全盛でした。iPadが発表されたのは2010年の1月27日ですから、世の中はまだtabletが世界を席巻するとは全く想像していませんでした。

GoogleのSundar Pichia氏はこう書いています。

Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks.

つまりChrome OSは「もっと良いNetbook」を作るのが目的でした。発表文を見る限り将来的にはデスクトップPCにも広げていこうという意図はあったようですが、当面はNetbookにチャンスがあると考えたようです。


Google Chrome OS is being created for people who spend most of their time on the web…



iPadの登場を景気にNetbookカテゴリーが一気に衰退したばかりではなく、フォーカスはウェブからアプリにシフトします。Chrome OSが前提としていたNetbook、そしてウェブを中心としたパソコン利用が同時に崩れたのです。


Chromebookが最初に登場したのは2011年の6月15日です。AcerとSamsungが発売しました。SamsungのモデルはSamsung Series 5 (WiFiのみのモデルで$350USD)、AcerのモデルはAC700 (WiFiのみのモデルで$300USD)でした。なお当初の価格はもうちょっと高く、この価格は半年ぐらいして値下げした後のものです。




このブログでも取り上げていますが、先日NPDが“U.S. commercial channels”の売り上げデータを発表しました。ネット上で話題になったのは、このデータで見る限りChromebookがよく売れているというデータでした。それに対して、私は「Chromebookが売れているという記事があるので、それを検証する」というポストの中でNPDのデータの問題点を取り上げ、以下のようにまとめました;

“U.S. commercial channels”でChromebookが売れるようになったといっても、全体としてChromebookが売れているわけではなさそうだし、どうして“U.S. commercial channels”だけが強いのかがまだわかりません。

Twitterで業界アナリストのBen Bajarin氏に尋ねてみると、以下のように教えてくれました。

スクリーンショット 2013 12 30 12 13 50

さらに有料購読しないと読めないのですが、Ben Bajarin氏は“Understanding the Market for Chromebooks”という記事も書いてくれ、解説してくれました。この記事のポイントをまとめます。

  1. Chromebookの大半は教育市場に向けて販売されています。
  2. 教育市場ではそれなりに多くのChromebookが導入されています。
  3. U.S.の教育市場ではウェブベースのプログラムが多く使用されています。
  4. 使い方としてはChromebookはオンライン教育ソフトウェア専用ポータルになっています。
  5. 「教科書」と同じような使い方になっています。
  6. Chromebookは“specific purpose device”(特定用途デバイス)として使われています。

Ben Bajarin氏のこの情報を考慮すると、NPDデータの謎が解けます。

  1. “U.S. commercial channels”というのはおそらくは日本でいう大塚商会などのように、ハードウェアとソフトウェアとセットアップと管理などをすべてまとめて納入するValue Added Reseller(付加価値再販業者)を指します。教育市場に製品を納入する業者もおそらくこれが多いのでしょう。またNPDはAmazonやDELL直販、Apple直販などのデータは収集していません。したがって今回のNPDのデータがパソコン市場全体を反映しないのは当然のことです。
  2. Chrome OSがウェブ使用統計に出てこないという謎は私もブログで取り上げています。2013年11月現在のデータを見ても、Chrome OSの使用は極めて少ないものにとどまっています。そこで「いったいChromebookは何に使われているんだ?」という疑問が湧きます。Ben Bajarin氏の情報から考えると、Chromebookは学校専用ですので、学校で使うサイト以外を閲覧するのには使われていないと考えられます。ウェブ使用統計を集計しているStatCounterは、学校で使うサイトの統計は収集できていないのかもしれません。もしそうであれば、Chrome OSがウェブ使用統計で極めて少ない謎が解けます。
  3. まだ解けていない謎は残っています。AmazonのランキングでChromebookが上位に出ている点です。教育市場に大量に納入されるChromebookがAmazonから購入されているとは考えにくいです。またAmazon購入者は一般的な用途にChromebookを使うでしょうから、もっとウェブ使用統計に反映されると期待されますが、実際にはそうなっていません。この謎はまだ解けていませんが、予想としてはAmazonのランキングが市場全体を反映していないのだろうと思います。


Ben Bajarin氏の情報の中で凄く面白いと思ったのは「特定用途のパーソナルコンピュータ」です。


しかし近所の薬局やレストランに行くと、タイムカード専用や売り上げ集計専用のパソコンがレジの横に置いてあったりします。このパソコンはもちろんゲームに使われませんし、プレゼンを書くのにも使用されません。インターネットに接続するにしても、イントラネットや仕事で使うSaaSに接続するだけでしょう。単一用途ではないにせよ、極めて限定的な用途で使われているパソコンです。ただしこれらのパソコンは今までは店舗に1, 2台あるだけで、数はそれほど多くありませんでした。








U.S.でIT業界のアナリストをしているBen Bajarin氏にいろいろ確認をし、新しいポストに掲載しました。

  1. “U.S. Commercial channels”というのは、日本でいえば大塚商会のように、企業や政府機関、教育機関にソリューションを卸しているところのようです。
  2. Chromebookはほとんどが教育機関に売られているようです。
  3. Chromebookは“specific-purpose”であり、教科書代わりに使われているようです。





  1. 調査内容は2013年1月から11月までの間に全米流通ネットワーク (U.S. commercial channels)で販売されたデスクトップPC・ノートPC・タブレット端末の台数です。この“commercial channels”が何を指すのかは今ひとつはっきりわかりません。例えばメーカーの直販ウェブサイトが含まれているかどうかがわかりません。
  2. Gigazineも引用しているグラフには“Preconfigured desktop and notebook sales only”の注記があります。ユーザがハードディスク容量やメモリの容量を変えているものは別だということです。このことからデータにメーカー直販ウェブサイトは含まれていないのではないかと推測されます。
  3. “U.S. commercial channels”で発売されたのは2012年1-11月で14.4 million台のdesktop, notebook, tabletです。参考にGartnerはUSのPC販売台数を1Q13で14.2 million台2Q13で15.0 million台3Q13で16.1 million台としています。なお参考までに4Q12は17.5 million台なので、4Qに販売台数が伸びる季節性はあるようです。Gartnerの調査はNPDと異なりtabletを含みませんので(Gartnerはtabletの世界的な出荷台数を2013年10月時点でPCの303 millionに対して184 millionと見ています)、NPDが見ている“U.S. commercial channels”というのは、米国のPC市場の10-20%程度になるのではないかと私は見ています。つまり“U.S. commercial channels”というのは全体のPC販売台数の極一部でしかないと思われます。
  4. NPD自身は2013年6月30日–9月7日の調査でChromebookがU.S.で175,000台売れたとしています。そして同期間のPC販売台数の3.3%を占めたとしています。それに対して“commercial channels”の下記の表を見ると、chromebook / (PC + chromebook) = 9.6% / 73.3% = 13%なので、“commercial channels”のchromebookのシェアはPC全体の13%となります。両方ともNPDのデータなのですが、大きな乖離があります。

以上を考えると、“U.S. commercial channels”というのがどうもくせ者のように思えます。“U.S. commercial channels”といのは米国においてはかなりマイナーはPC販売の形態であり、市場全体とは異なる傾向を示しているようです。下記の表で見る限り、Apple Notebooksもかなり少なめに出ています(“U.S. commercial channels”では1.8% / 73% = 2.5%, NPDの2013年6月30日–9月7日調査では20.3%)。

DELLは原則直販ですし、Appleも直販が多いでしょう。Gartnerのメーカー別U.S.シェアとNPDの“U.S. commercial channels”の表を比較しても、際立つのは“U.S. commercial channels”にはDELLがいないこと、そしてLenovoが相対的に多くなっている点です。

“U.S. commercial channels”でChromebookが売れるようになったといっても、全体としてChromebookが売れているわけではなさそうだし、どうして“U.S. commercial channels”だけが強いのかがまだわかりません。コンピュータのことがよくわからない顧客が、圧倒的な値段の安さ、もしくは販売員の薦めで買っているだけの可能性も否定できません。少なくとも現時点でMicrosoftに対して脅威になるというのは時期尚早ではないでしょうか。





そんな中で、結構売れているのではないかという憶測があります。例えばGoogleの副社長のCaesar Senguptaは米国の教育地区の22%がChromebookを使っていると語っていますし、Amazonのランキングで上位に入っている)という話もあります。


例えばNPDの調査 (2013年6月30日 – 9月7日)によると

Chromebooks, which didn’t exist in 2012, added almost 175,000 units to the market this year and provided all the growth in the challenged notebook market; entry-level Windows notebooks (under $300) increased 14 percent, and Windows touch notebooks accounted for 25 percent of Windows notebook sales.


スクリーンショット 2013 12 18 5 57 17


  1. Appleは2012年1年間で18,158,000台のMacを売り上げました。(Macworldより)
  2. 2012年の第4四半期で、世界のPCの出荷台数は 90,300,000台。米国だけで 17,505,607台。(Gartnerより)


  1. Chromebookは一定の数は売れているようですが、Windowsを脅かすレベルではありません。
  2. Amazonのランキングから想像するとChromebookはもっと売れているように思ってしまいますが、そうではなさそうです。全く売れていないというわけではないのですが、それほどは売れていません。

もう一つ面白い統計は、Chromebook 11がリコールされたことで明るみに出た数字です。HPとGoogleはChromebook 11を2013年の10月から販売し、11月には製品不良のために出荷停止しました。そしてリコール対象の台数は145,000台だそうです。単純に比較はできませんが、NPDのデータの同程度の台数であり、それを裏付けるものと考えても良いと思います。


先日のAppleのQ4報告の中でTim Cook氏は

We see Chromebooks in some places,


but the vast majority of people are buying PC/Mac or an iPad.


2013年の2月には“Chromebooks Now Embraced By More Than 2000 Schools”という記事がJason Evangelho氏によって書かれ、Forbesに掲載されました。


National Center for Education Statisticsによると、2009年時点で、アメリカの学校は 公立 98,817, 私立 33,366, 大学など 6,742校あるそうです。計138,925 校です。2,000/138,925 = 1.4%となります。

Tim Cookが述べた “some places” というのはおおよそ1.4%レベルを指しているのだろうと推測されます。1.4%というのはStatCounterによると、アメリカ市場全体におけるLinuxのウェブ使用率に相当します。