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More Open Hybrid Clouds will Have a Chrome Lining

The confluence of hybrid cloud services -- based upon open source technologies like OpenStack -- and low-cost high-value Chrome OS notebook PCs is going to become a powerful combination that will gain momentum in 2014 and beyond. Here's an example of that key trend in motion.

An estimated 2.1 million Chromebooks shipped in 2013 with nearly 89 percent of total shipments reaching North America, according to the latest global market study by ABI Research.

As Chromebook shipments expand globally, ABI Research now forecasts an increase of 28 percent CAGR to 11 million units in 2019.

“ABI Research tracked Chromebooks across six regions and found the average selling price (ASP) to be $338,” said Stephanie Van Vactor, research analyst at ABI Research.

ABI believes that this truly budget-driven device is a disruptive force to the portable PC market. The ASP and shipment growth of Chromebooks shows the market responding to products for the budget conscious -- a reaction from a slowly reviving economy along with interest from the education business vertical.

Beyond Chromebooks, ABI Research found the broader portable PC market continuing its struggle to regain market growth. In particular, the grand plan for Microsoft and Intel to propel expensive Ultrabook PCs to new heights failed to materialize in the marketplace.


The ultra-portable segment, which is powered by the Windows 8 operating system and includes the versatile 2-in-1 configurations, saw minimal growth during 4Q 2013 -- even after the usual buying boost during the holiday season.

ABI Research also saw the ASP of ultra-portables decline in 2013 by 7.4 percent year-over-year. ABI now predicts that ASPs will continue to decline through 2019 -- as competition for share of wallet from mobile devices and other form-factors continues.

Looking ahead, ABI expects that cost, connectivity, and greater reliance on cloud services to be driving forces in growth for some ultra-portable PCs.

Chromebooks have the potential to change the market. But while many consumers and business IT buyers are undecided about how they will embrace the whole "Cloudbook" phenomenon, they're nonetheless intrigued by the notion that Open Hybrid Clouds and hosted software applications is the savvy trajectory.

"There are many events that can shift the market in 2014, including the EOL of Windows XP, the adoption of Chromebooks, and a stronger focus on web and cloud services," adds senior practice director, Jeff Orr. "How consumers and business audiences respond to these changes will impact the trajectory of the market."

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