Looking back on 2015, the personal computer industry had yet another period of transition, as most vendors either missed the shifting market demand or they had products that were perceived as obsolete. That said, the low-cost high-value Chromebook category actually gained new momentum in the market.
In its recent report on notebook PCs, ABI Research analyzed current market trends in Chromebooks, laptops and ultraportable PCs and offered a forward-looking, five-year forecast on industry trends.
Chromebooks will continue to lead growth for the notebook PC category, with Google Chrome OS systems (based upon Linux) expected to ship more than 8 million units by the end of 2015, increasing with a 22 percent CAGR over the next five years.
"Industry professionals can expect the notebook PC market, including Chromebooks, laptops and ultraportable PCs, to remain roughly flat year-on-year in 2015, with flat to slightly positive growth projected through 2020," says Jeff Orr, research director at ABI Research.
According to the ABI assessment, forecast data predicts a 2016 sales surge in both Chromebooks and improved ultraportable PCs -- as more people adopt a Chromebook within a variety of use case settings, and affordable 2-in-1 ultraportable PCs maintain their position in mainstream portable computing.
PC Market Development Shift Continues in 2016
In all, an estimated 163 million notebook PCs will ship worldwide during 2015. However, the ultraportable PC and laptop segments declined in 2015 by 14 percent when compared to 2014.
This decline is primarily due to unit volume losses at Acer, ASUS and Lenovo, among other vendors. The departure of Samsung and Sony from this PC market category also significantly impacted the results.
Additionally, according to ABI, Apple is predicted to close out 2015 with 32 percent share of the ultraportable PC segment, specifically due to its popular MacBook Air models.
ABI says that historically larger notebook PCs were the mainstay portable computer, and they accounted for most of the unit volume in this market. As the future unfolds, analysts will be watching the ultraportable PCs, with many technology suppliers already introducing advanced configurations aimed to maximize product flexibility.
Meanwhile, the growing convenience of fast turn-on and low-maintenance Chromebooks will likely expand into more enterprise environments, as CIOs and IT managers start to adopt these devices for the emerging application needs of their internal mobile hybrid cloud service users.