Filling the gap between popular mobile devices and the declining traditional PC market, sales of Google’s Chromebooks are expected to nearly triple by 2017. The Chrome OS-powered laptops will account for 5.2 million units sold this year—a 79 percent increase from 2013, according to Gartner. Within three years, sales will reach 14.4 million units. “Competition in the Chromebook market is intensifying as more vendors launch Chromebooks, with eight models in the market in 2014,” Isabelle Durand, principal analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. A Chromebook, as defined by Gartner, is a mobile computing device powered by the Google Chrome OS, with up to 16GB local storage and a focus on cloud storage. All applications come from the Google Play store, which requires a wireless Internet connection.
Chromebooks, once a niche category of affordable Internet-dependent laptops, are starting to hit the cusp of mainstream awareness. Sales of the laptops, powered by Google’s Chrome operating system, are expected to nearly triple to 14.2 million units worldwide by 2017, according to Gartner. The research firm expects global sales to reach 5.2 million this year, up 79 percent from 2013. Last year, 82 percent of Chromebooks were sold in North America. Chromebooks got off to a slow start, hampered initially by the lack of applications and its insistence on an online connection for full functionality, but interest in the devices has accelerated due to improved features and capabilities and a low price. Google has worked to improve the offline mode, and a number of vendors have begun to manufacture and sell Chromebooks as an alternative to PCs. With traditional PC sales falling, it’s one reason why Microsoft, fearful of Chromebooks cutting into its Windows-based market share, has been so aggressive in pushing its Surface tablet as another alternative. CNET got its hands on the latest Chromebook, Acer’s Chromebook 13, which runs on Nvidia’s K1 processor. CNET editor Scott Stein praised the battery life, impressive specifications, and price. The Chromebook 13 is available for presale and carries a price tag of $279.