With 20% growth, Chromebooks aren't far behind Windows for much longer

Chromebooks are slowly penetrating low-cost PC markets but are yet to convince business users to replace their Windows PCs and laptops, says a research by Gartner.

Gartner researcher Mikako Kitagawa says sales of Chromebooks will grow by double digits this year but are yet to get a major presence in Asia, Africa and South America.

A Chromebook can be an ideal device for you if you want to use a low-cost and portable laptop to run your Android apps, chat with ease and play games round the clock. For some, it's a welcome respite from the world of Windows PCs with new looks, sleek design and a completely different OS to work on. But for most business users, Chromebooks just cannot replace their beloved work toys.

Windows apps are coming to Chromebooks!

This year alone, worldwide shipments of PCs may touch close to 300 million units, but despite their growing presence, Chromebooks may account for just 8 million devices at most. In the first quarter of this year, total number of Chromebook sales were just 1.65 million, and compared to 6.5 million units sold in 2015, their sales this year may peak at 7.5 to 8 million, a rise of around 18 per cent.

As of now, a bulk of Chromebook sales are taking place in North America and Western Europe while Asia, Africa and South America remain untapped or didn't show much interest in Chromebooks. As per Kitagawa, Chromebooks, being niche products, were not accepted by people as their Windows-device replacements but this may soon change. "There were a lot of Chromebook returns at the beginning, but that has ended now. People understand it," he said.

Google now knows too well that to compete with Windows PCs in the long run, Chromebooks will have to display similar capabilities. Even though Chromebooks can't run Windows programmes yet,  a team of developers recently created an application named CrossOver to let Chromebooks run all Windows apps. Apart from Chromebooks which run on ChromeOS, CrossOver will also let other Android devices run Windows apps, provided such Chromebooks and Android devices feature Intel processors only. CodeWeavers have also put up a product named CrossOver 15 on sale which lets Mac users run Windows apps and programmes on their devices.

Google Play Store Apps coming to Chromebooks

The news comes not long after Google announced at its I/O Conference in Mountain View, California that Google Play app store will arrive on ChromeOS as early as in the first half of the year. The list of Chromebooks where the Play Store will be initially available include Google Chromebook Pixel (2015), Acer Chromebook R11 and Asus Chromebook Flip. However, Google will roll out its Play Store on all Chromebooks by the end of the year. The launch of Play Store will let you make Skype calls, download and use Android apps and play Minecraft or Clash of Clans on your Chromebook. But we aren't sure if Play Store will be launched as part of a comprehensive update to ChromeOS or if will be updated independently over the air.

Google's decision to let ChromeOS users access Android apps comes not long after data from IDC revealed that shipments of Chromebooks outpaced that of Macs in the United States during the first quarter of the year. As per the IDC estimate, Apple sold 1.76 million Macs in Q1 and even though it registered a 5.6 per cent increase in sales year-on-year, it lagged behind Lenovo, HP, and Dell in terms of overall sales. As per the Verge, Dell, HP and Lenovo together sold 2 million Chromebooks in Q1, overtaking Apple in the process.

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