Chromebook units surge 275% in Q1, says Canalys

Chromebook first quarter shipments are being compared to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic a year ago.

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Chromebook units surged 275% in the first quarter compared to a year ago with HP leading Lenovo for the most shipments, according to Canalys data.

The PC market has been hot amid remote work and education and Chromebooks are a big part of those gains. In recent quarters, Chromebooks have been a blessing and curse to PC makers. PC vendors ship more Chromebook units, but at lower price points and profit margins.

However, Chromebooks have gone higher end as PC vendors push better designs, but the devices are mostly volume plays.

HP had 36.4% share in Chromebooks followed by Lenovo at 25.9%. Acer has nearly 12% and Samsung surged to 10% share, up from just 1.6% a year ago. Dell's share has fallen from a year ago even though it nearly doubled unit shipments in the first quarter.

Also keep in mind that Chromebook first quarter shipments are being compared to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic a year ago. Consider that HP had 595,000 Chromebook shipments in the first quarter of 2020 and ramped to 4.36 million in the same quarter of 2021.

In other words, COVID-19 made Chromebooks mainstream, but the year-ago comparisons will be tougher going forward. It's also unclear what the replacement cycles will look like for Chromebooks in the future.

Brian Lynch, an analyst at Canalys, said education accounts for most of the shipments, but Chromebooks will likely see demand from small businesses too.

Canalys also posted the global tablet and PC market share rankings and there weren't a lot of surprises. Apple led the first quarter tablet market share rankings with strength in the iPad Air. Apple had 38.2% share in the tablet market in the first quarter followed by Samsung's 20.1%. The remaining players had less than 10% share.

For PCs, Lenovo had the most share with 19.7% followed by Apple at 18.1% and HP at 15.8%.