Are Chromebooks killing off the Macbook?

Much has been made of the threat that Chromebooks pose to Windows machines, but the real loser may well be Macbooks. That's what the latest figures from the analyst group NPD show. Can Macbooks survive the Chrome onslaught?

NPD's latest research about sales of PCs, notebooks and tablets sold through the commercial channel in the U.S. show Chromebook sales growing fast while sales of Windows notebooks and Apple notebooks are falling. Chromebooks accounted for a full 21% of all notebook sales from January through November of 2013. The year previous sales were negligible.

Overall, Chromebooks accounted for 9.6% of all desktop, notebook, and tablet sales via the commercial market for the year, compared to 0.2% a year previous. Windows notebooks accounted for 34.1%, down from 42.9% a year previous. Apple notebooks accounted for only 1.8%, compared to 2.6% the year previous.

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Source: The NPD Group/Distributor Track and Commercial Reseller Tracking Service

Those figures show Chromebooks taking a hefty chunk of the Windows notebook market, but with 34.1% of the market share for all notebooks, desktops, and tablets, Windows still has a healthy market share. The same can't be said of Mac notebooks. A mere 1.8% market share is vanishingly small, and likely will shrink even further.

Keep in mind that these figures are only for the commercial channel, and don't reflect the entire U.S. market. Still, even in the rest of the market, Chromebooks are outselling Macbooks. Consider Amazon's current notebook best-seller list. The top two best sellers are Chromebooks -- the Acer C720 Chromebook and the Samsung Chromebook. It's not until 14th place that a Macbook shows up, the 15.4-inch Macbook Pro.Four of the top 15 sellers are Chromebooks, ten are Windows machines, and only one is a Macbook.

So yes, it's true that Chromebooks are hurting the sales of Windows machines. But Macbooks are even being hurt worse. Will Chromebooks kill off Macbooks? Not likely. There will always be a percentage of the market willing to pay luxury prices for a luxury machine. But that percentage appears to be dwindling, thanks at least in part to the availability of low-cost, ultraportable Chromebooks.

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