Well, this isn’t a good sign for PC manufacturers, PC shipments in the period from April to June totaled just 75.6 million units, down 11.4 percent from the same quarter in 2012, research firm IDC said on Wednesday.  The numbers include desktop, laptop, mini-notebook, and workstation sales, however, exclude those of tablet computers.  “This marks the fifth consecutive quarter of declining shipments, which is the longest duration of decline in the PC market’s history,” Gartner said in a statement.

But while the decline in PC sales has affected most of the major manufacturers and Microsoft, Google’s Chromebook has seen growth.  A recent NPD report has stated that Chromebooks in just the past eight months reached 20 percent to 25 percent of the U.S. market for laptops that cost less than $300.  In fact, they are the fastest-growing part of the PC industry based on price, NPD said.  Now, if you’re not familiar with Chromebooks, they are laptops which have a full keyboard and run Chrome OS, an operating system that receives regular updates from Google with new features and improvements.

You can use a Chromebook for web based activities such as surfing the web, email, and editing documents and creating spreadsheets (via Google Docs).  You can also use Chrome OS apps and extensions to extend functionality of the device.

The original set of Chromebooks were released in 2011 and didn’t receive much fanfare, however, Google has continued to push the product and more manufacturers have been signing to to make Chromebook devices, including Samsung, Acer, and HP.  For inexpensive laptops, Chromebooks are definitely a great choice, especially since most computing activities these days take place on the web.

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While Chromebooks are typically inexpensive, Google released the Pixel, a more high-end device with a touch screen back in February of this year, which starts retailing for $1,299. The move to more higher-end Chromebooks with better specs and bigger screens may continue going forward, though I don’t necessarily agree with it (at least this time).

Nonetheless, Chromebooks still remain a small portion of the total U.S. market for laptops and netbooks. The devices had about 4 percent to 5 percent share in the first quarter, though that was up from 1 percent to 2 percent in 2012, according to an analyst at Gartner.

It may not be a good time for the PC industry as a whole, but it’s sure looking up for Google and its Chromebooks.


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