PC revival! Chromebooks and ultraportable PCs to lead charge

abi researchThe personal computer (PC) is still alive and breathing. According to ABI Research, 163 million notebook PCs shipped globally in 2015.

The majority were laptops, which constituted nearly 80 percent of the category. The data suggests that despite a floating myth speculating that it will only be a matter of time before PCs meet their demise, the market is still going strong and shows no sign of slowing down in the immediate future.

“Industry experts greatly exaggerated the death of the PC. The platform is continuing to evolve its designs to provide flexibility for productivity purposes, while also adapting its shape to support tablet-like, touch applications. Chromebooks and ultraportable PCs will continue to drive the most growth within the notebook PC market,” said Jeff Orr, Research Director of ABI Research.

Notebook PC Segment YoY Change (%)
  2015 2016
Chromebook 27.1% 21.2%
Laptop -1.0% -2.8%
Ultraportable -3.2% 10.9%
Total -0.5% 0.4%
Notebook PC Segment Shipments (Millions)
  2015 2016 2021
Chromebook 6.2 7.6 11.6
Laptop 129.7 126.1 116.3
Ultraportable 27.1 30.0 41.2
Total 163.0 163.7 169.1

Though ultraportable PCs hit the shelves at premium prices, consumer interest for the 2-in-1 systems is increasing due to the supreme versatility that the models provide. As such, ABI Research predicts that new, low-cost models will emerge from a broader range of system OEMs in 2016 and forecasts ultraportable PCs will constitute more than 24 percent of total notebook PC unit volume in 2021.

Meanwhile, ABI Research anticipates Chromebooks to continue to dominate the education market in 2016, as school initiatives drive toward 1:1 student deployments with a technology device. And though the majority of Chromebooks historically shipped in the US, the education trend is beginning to see growth in other regions, notably Western Europe. ABI Research predicts that Chromebooks will represent nearly seven percent of all notebook PC shipments in 2021.

From an operating system standpoint, however, there remains room for further notebook PC development. “Intel architecture powers the majority of notebook PCs, and its introduction of the Core M SoC processor greatly enhanced the number of potential systems manufacturers that can participate in the 2-in-1 market. With ARM processors dominating mobile devices, many in the industry wonder if an ARM-based PC will eventually surface. With no Windows 10 desktop support for ARM processor architecture, only a handful of Chromebooks are using ARM-based processors in their designs. As such, we do not expect ARM-based PCs to emerge during the forecast period,” said Orr.

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