Business PC Sales Indicate Cloud Shift

By Gary Kim December 30, 2013

Through November 2013, 14.4 million desktops, notebooks, and tablets were sold via U.S. commercial channels, a 25.4 percent increase over 2012, according to NPD Group. That should provide one benchmark of how business computing is changing in the U.S. market.

Desktop sales through the commercial distributor channel (to businesses) increased 8.5 percent. Meanwhile, notebooks grew 28.9 percent, and tablet sales saw 49-percent growth over the same time period in 2012.

For some of us, the report that Chromebooks accounted for 21 percent of all notebook sales (up from negligible share in the prior year) and eight percent of all computer and tablet sales through November 2013, is among the most noteworthy developments. Chromebooks represented just one tenth of a percent of notebook sales in 2012.

Image via Shutterstock

This is certainly interesting, particularly in the context of operating system market share. Windows notebook market share showed no growth over 2012, for example, though Windows desktop sales increased by nearly 10 percent, and Apple sales for notebooks and desktops combined fell by seven percent.

Some may say the adoption of Chromebooks shows the coming practical realization of cloud computing, since, by definition, a Chromebook is designed to work using cloud-based resources, not local resources.

Chromebooks and Android tablets collectively had the biggest impact on sales growth, with 1.76 million units going through the channel from January through November of 2013, compared to just 400,000 units in 2012, NPD says.

Tablet sales captured more than 22 percent of all personal computing device sales sold through the commercial channel through November 2013. That can also be taken as a sign that cloud computing is becoming a standard way people use computing resources, as tablets, like Chromebooks, rely on cloud-based resources for much of their value.

Windows tablet sales nearly tripled off a very small base, and Android tablet sales grew more than 160 percent.  Apple iPad sales, meanwhile, accounted for 59 percent of the volume in the tablet market, NPD says.

Some may be surprised by Chromebook adoption in business customer segments, but others might say the adoption of cloud-centric computing devices is to be expected, if indeed we are moving into a new era of computing. 

Edited by Blaise McNamee

Contributing Editor

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