Monday, February 22, 2021

Chromebooks Outsell Macs

Johanna Romero (via ChrisLTD):

Back in November, we reported on how in Q3 of 2020 Chrome OS growth was exploding across the globe. Now, the newest report by Strategy Analytics has shown that this impressive growth has continued throughout Q4, to the point that Chrome OS has overtaken MacOS’ #2 slot with 16.4% of the global Notebook PC market share.

Sami Fathi:

The data from IDC (via GeekWire) shows that Windows continues to dominate the market, although its share declined over the course of the year as Chrome OS surged past macOS into second place.

For the full year, the market share of Windows was down 4.9% in 2020 compared to 2019, while the Mac grew from 6.7% to 7.5%. IDC’s data includes collective information about desktops, laptops, and workstations, and doesn’t provide a breakdown of specific different product types.


19 Comments RSS · Twitter

Giving up on the education market was probably one of the dumbest moves Apple has ever made.

(No, selling a bunch of iPads to rich kindergartens does not count as a viable strategy...)

We have Chromebooks at our school district. They’re the perfect sweet spot of budget and task scope for students & the district.

It’s not a question of Apple “giving up.”

They were never in the running, the Chromebooks are just plain easier to maintain and there are no “admin hoops” to jump thru. Apple made themselves a bureaucracy and nobody wants to deal with it, or them.

Exactly. They didn’t adapt. I remember reading a guy on Twitter named Fraser Spiers, he used to advocate Macs and iPads in education and write entire threads and blog posts about it (can’t find his account anymore) but he got fed up and switched to Chromebooks 2 or 3 years ago. That was telling.

Oh my... That's really interesting. It can run linux apps too, which among other things includes Étoilé / GnuStep / Cocotron.

I deleted a whole message to give Tim Cook one final benefit of the doubt here. ARM MacBook. ( Which is a long time coming )

At least hypothetically speaking, there is no reason why within the next 24 months, Apple cant have a M1SE ( Which is basically just an A14 SoC ) 12" MacBook, with 6GB of Memory and 128GB NAND. Pretty much the exact config as the iPhone 12 Pro. Apple are very good at reusing component for their supply chain benefits. My prediction is once the iPhone 12 Pro demand are falling in 2022 2H it make sense to move those capacity to Mac.

The iPad 128GB WiFi is currently $399 for Education, there is no reason why a MacBook for Education cant fall to that price.

And in case you are wondering about margin, Apple is pushing AppleCare+ for this sector.

Penny wise pound foolish. Have fun y'all with that unworkable resolution on a slow git while you are being pumped for all the data that can be squeezed out of you.

@ruurd: It’s K12, student edition. I doubt computing kit there lasts much longer than the average school uniform. Any device, no matter its size or price, is going to be picked up and put down many times daily, dropped, lost, found, dropped again, flooded out with Mountain Dew, and also possibly stolen. Cheap and cheerful is probably a good overall compromise when MTF may be measured in months.

(I also made a point in another comment that a device’s own resolution should be a non-issue as kids should be sitting in front of mounted monitors for any extended period, not leaning over a mobile display, but that’s a longer post which is either in a queue or swallowed by WP.)

As for Chrome/Android/Google/Alphabet direct information gathering, I dunno—what are the relevant laws governing that when users are minors? I suspect it’s comparatively restrictive, and Alphabet’s playing the long game here so if the choice is “don’t gather student data” vs “don’t gather students” they’re not going to mind delaying a few extra years in order to secure both.

And don’t think Apple and every other vendor aren’t information gathering too. The only way you’ll avoid that completely is by going back to slate and chalk; and nowadays I’m sure even your chalk purchases are counted. Not that it isn’t a problem, but I doubt you’re going to earn Apple any more sales on its expensive edu-unfriendly products following that tactic. Apple’s failure to secure its edu market is Apple’s fault; nobody else’s. Info gathering is a problem, but insinuating it’s only a Chromebook problem is just good old-fashioned FUD.

A cheap Mac for education would be a good start, but I'm not sure it's enough at this point. One of the big strengths of ChromeOS is their smartphone-like data and security model. For example, your files, apps, and system configuration are all continuously backed up to a Google data center, so moving to a new machine is like loading up a new iPhone with an iCloud backup (except the process takes less than 10 minutes in the case of ChromeOS rather than hours). Android apps and Linux apps run in separate containers from the main OS, so rogue software will have a harder time screwing up your system.

On a separate note, I think if Apple started MacOS from scratch, they'd likely adopt something like the ChromeOS model. All traditional apps would be sandboxed, system level services would be basically banned outside of some very restrictive APIs, and everything else like, command line or dev apps would have to run in a VM. I used to think it'd be a shame to have MacOS so locked down, but with the proliferation of malware and privacy threatening software, I'd actually welcome a shift in this direction.

Headline Examiner

In other words, during a pandemic when everybody needed extra quick-n-dirty internet devices, the cheapest devices saw the most sales growth?

And the company which just began a multi-year architecture transition (so most of their product lines have an end-of-life CPU) dropped one position in the sales rankings that very quarter?

And all of these numbers count Google's hybrid laptop/tablet OS but include only Apple's desktop OS and not their tablet OS?


@Headline Examiner,
From the charts, it seems the story is that Chromebook growth pushed them past Macs (at the expense of Windows), rather than Macs ceding share to Chromebooks. What that portends for the future, who knows, but it's an interesting trend to watch.

Price was a part of it, but the management of iPads was TERRIBLE for about the first 5-7 years. They've gotten better much better now, but it was ugly and a pain for those years. No wonder they went Chromebooks.

Do Chromebooks still require users to store information in Google's cloud bowels? If so they're inappropriate for K12 schools.

@HE: “And all of these numbers count Google's hybrid laptop/tablet OS but include only Apple's desktop OS and not their tablet OS?”

If you want to roll Apple’s desktop and mobile OSes together, I’m sure Alphabet will be happy to meet you on those terms too. Oops.

Perhaps you should save your Apologetics for anyone who cares. This is business at the highest, most competitive level. There are no prizes given for participation. And certainly no quarter.

A decade of failing at Edu did not happen overnight. Suggesting a CPU migration is at fault when Apple’s growth has been flat since 2016 is just embarrassing. Even the less-than-visionary Tim Cook would never be dumb enough to try such a pitiful excuse.

@Matt B: “Price was a part of it, but the management of iPads was TERRIBLE for about the first 5-7 years.”

Bingo. Time is Money too. Expensive iPads with amazing groupware might’ve held their own against cheap C-books with only so-so management. There is no part of this equation that Apple got right.

@me: “Cheap and cheerful is probably a good overall compromise when MTBF may be measured in months. ”


Headline Examiner

@ChrisLTD: I don't understand the distinction you're trying to make. In absolute terms, every computer company has been growing this year. It's a pandemic, and people need devices. What's new is there's a big demand for (Chrome/Zoom-capable) devices, and so naturally the cheapest option got a big boost from that. It's only "at the expense of" another in a zero-sum game, but the market never was, and this year was a clear example of why.

@has: I was merely proposing separating "laptops" and "tablets". The report is combining these two categories for one manufacturer, and keeping them separate for another. It doesn't address phones at all, so I don't know why you'd even bring that up -- unless you (like these analysts) are starting with a conclusion and then picking numbers to try to support that claim. Everybody loves an "Apple is dying" story, huh?

You say "Apple’s growth has been flat since 2016", in comparison with Google -- seriously? Apple's stock is up more than 5x from then, and Alphabet's is up less than 3x. Dropping to 2nd place in market share for one quarter is not "a decade of failing".

Please, tell us more about how "dumb" Tim Cook is. We look to a "visionary" like you, oh bitter anonymous commenter on someone else's Apple blog.

@Headline Examiner

You say "Apple’s growth has been flat since 2016", in comparison with Google -- seriously? Apple's stock is up more than 5x from then, and Alphabet's is up less than 3x. Dropping to 2nd place in market share for one quarter is not "a decade of failing".

Wait, are you taking about stock price or sales? I'm not making an argument either way but I think you are conflating the two.

@Nathan: “are you taking about stock price or sales? I'm not making an argument either way but I think you are conflating the two.”

I made the same point rather more pithily, but I assume it’s stuck in a queue. No matter.

In any case Mr Examiner really needs to go learn the difference between share value (which tells you how much a company is worth today) and market growth (which tells you what it’ll be worth five years from now). This is, like, Business 101.

Also Investing 101.

Apple lacks growth, which is not so hot for its long-term prospects. As long as it keeps generating fat profits, its shares will be a “hold”, but it can’t maintain its profit growth indefinitely without also growing markets to generate fresh income. See: rent-seeking. Eventually established customers will tire of being shaken down for ever more money—and what then will Apple do to make up its shortflow? It will start by reducing its operating costs: first by cutting all the fat (as they already did in 2016), then trimming the meat, and finally hacking on bone. But because in business you have to spend money in order to make money (i.e. future growth requires investment now), such merciless penny-pinching becomes a deadly dangerous trap.

I mean, haven’t you ever played SimCity or Civilization? See also: positive feedback loops.

Whereas Alphabet is growing its market, albeit by eating Microsoft’s share of an existing market rather than expanding the market itself. And the way it’s going it will eventually eat Apple’s share of that market too. So if Apple isn’t retaking that market faster than Chromebook is taking it, or growing exciting new markets to offset the loss of boring old ones, then Apple’s market share will eventually shrink, whether in absolute or relative terms. At that point Apple shares will move from “hold” to “sell” as the smart money moves on to more promising investments.

Also compare Amazon, a company that basically generates zero profits. That’s because Amazon sinks all of its spare cash back into driving future growth. Which is why Amazon’s going to eat our world, (Even as our world eats the Amazon… boom-tish!) I imagine even Alphabet fears Amazon, and is absolutely right to do so.

This is Roger Corman’s Death Race 2050 that we’re watching; only live, with trillion-dollar cars, and without its happy ending.

Apple’s just riding its laurels now, same as Microsoft was doing 20 years ago, and that makes them ripe for disruption. And without a Steve to disrupt them from the inside (and so be first to the new market that it created itself), that disruption will eventually come at them from the outside, when someone else finally does to Apple exactly what Apple did to Microsoft 15 years ago. And then Apple will be the ones trying to play catch-up from the back of the field.

That’s not just bad business; it’s an incredibly bad look for a company that is all about Image. The day Apple’s Product becomes popularly perceived as “uncool” is the day Apple’s board should shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders. Because the company is done, and there won’t be a Steve Jobs to save it.

To employ fond simile, these vast global corporations are much like oil supertankers. They’ve got incredible momentum once they’re moving, which is handy for riding out any short-term chop but it also means they steer like an absolute cow. Thus by the time everyone on board can see the iceberg coming it’s already way too late to do anything about it, while the self-interested bridge crew have taken the lifeboat.


That your typical tech nerd doesn’t grok any of this is not in itself a problem, but please: either stay in your lane or educate yourself before you come at me. Because when someone who understands as little about business as me does a head-desk fit to crack the floor, it is very, very likely that you’ve just embarrassed yourself spectacularly. And I shall find amusement in hanging out that ignorance for all to see.

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