Chromebooks Make Tiny Dent With Parents [MetaFAQs]

The COVID-19 pandemic, and its effects on consumers around the world have helped Google Chromebooks to start to make a small dent in the active installed base after years of experimentation and effort. Parents are one bright spot for the slowly-adopted products, as they have sought support for remote work and to help with schooling at home.

Google Chromebooks have been on the market since 2013 and have only recently started to make much headway into the Windows and Apple-dominated PC market. Despite Chromebook’s generally lower prices, consumers have continued to choose other products. With recent Chromebook models having more horsepower and features than the earliest models, and after aggressive marketing by Google especially into educational markets, the products have eased into the consideration set. Many buyers distrustful of Google’s market dominance, advertising, and its handling of data privacy have stayed away from Google-linked products. Broad use of Android smartphones have moved some buyers into the ecosystem, at least in part.

Mid-2020 high demand and some supply disruptions of Windows and Apple notebooks drove some buyers – parents and work-at-home adults – to consider Google Chromebooks. It remains to be seen if this recent uptick is a blip in the product’s long road to market acceptance.

About MetaFAQs

MetaFAQs are answers to frequently asked questions about technology users. They are drawn from the MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile datasets, the latest research developed through surveys. TUP/Technology User Profile 2020 is in its 38th continuous year.

Current subscribers to TUP may request answers like these through their inquiry service, the online interactive tool, or the TUP datasets. This gives the ability to drill down more deeply into other segments, services, or products.

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Home notebooks – stuck at home and getting things done [TUPdate]

Home mobile notebooks are popular for keeping at home

Mobile computing means much more than being able to work or play while traveling. Despite travel restrictions and worldwide stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, mobile computers reign as the most-popular home computer. Well over half (57%) of online adults use a home notebook, compared to 46% using at least one home desktop. MetaFacts surveyed online adults in six countries for the 2020 wave of TUP/Technology User Profile:  the US, UK, Germany, China, Japan, and India. Notebook use is strongest in Japan (72% of online adults) and Germany (67%), and lightest in the US (50%).

Notebook use is strongest in Japan (72% of online adults) and Germany (67%), and lightest in the US (50%). In fact, the majority of home notebook computers have historically stayed at home. Many users choose notebook computers over desktops so they can take it with them in case they travel, for school, or if they may decide to bring it along to a coffee shop or library. However, the most mobility many notebooks may ever see is the trip from the kitchen to the living room.

Home notebooks get newer

Online adults around the world are using a notebook that is less than three years old on average. Apple has recently released updated Apple MacBooks and they are starting to get into the hands of users to update the installed base. Some users keep their notebooks longer than others. In Japan and Germany, online adults are actively using MacBooks for an average of 3 years (Japan) and 2.7 years (Germany). In contrast, online users in China and Japan are using newer home notebooks.

Google Chromebooks have the lowest age of home notebooks in the active installed base. This is primarily because the market has been slow to adopt Chromebooks. Some users are Google-averse or are not using other Google service such as Google drive that could offer them some benefits of using a Chromebook. Other users prefer more feature-rich notebooks. Yet other users simply prefer Apple MacBooks.

Home notebooks are well-used

Home notebooks are used for a wide range of activities, from everyday web browsing to focused activities such as online banking and shopping.

It could be argued that with the Internet and a browser, notebooks are not fundamentally different whether they are running Windows, Apple, or Chrome OS. However, users do not see it that way, as shown in the bottom line of how they use their home notebooks.

Chromebooks, the most basic of notebooks, are being used for a narrower breadth of activities than either MacBooks or Windows notebooks. Fewer Chromebook users do the same activities other home notebook users regularly do. The relatively strongest activity among Chromebook users is shopping (36% versus 38% overall) and searching on health topics (30% versus 33% overall).

Part of these usage differences say more about the types of customers attracted to a Chromebook than about the hardware or operating system. In broad socioeconomic terms, Chromebooks are used by adults in lower socioeconomic groups, Windows used throughout all strata, and Apple used primarily by upper socioeconomic groups.

MacBooks are also not used for as wide a range of activities as Windows home notebooks. However, several activities are strongest among home MacBook users. With Apple’s tightly coupled ecosystem with iPhones such as with Handoff, text messaging and phone calls rank higher than on Windows or Chromebooks. Also, managing home security/climate/lighting is stronger among MacBook users, although likely because of the stronger tech profile of its users and less so about only using Apple’s HomeKit.

Home Windows notebooks are used the most broadly. More Windows notebook users use their notebooks more than MacBook or Chromebook users for all the major activities except one – cloud storage of personal files.

Looking ahead

Home notebooks will continue to be a mainstay for home technology devices for the foreseeable future. Although smartphones have started to be used for several activities, particularly for communication, they have far to go before fully replacing notebooks. Similarly, while online adults with tablets are using them for many of the same activities, tablet penetration still lags far behind notebook use.

About TUPdates

The information referred to in this TUPdate is based on the results gathered in TUP/Technology User Profile 2020, its 38th annual wave, and based on surveys of online adults in the US, UK, Germany, Japan, China, and India.

Current subscribers to TUP/Technology User Profile will be receiving a full report on notebooks, desktops, who is using them, and how they are being used as part of TUP and its PC chapter. Also, clients with inquiry privileges may request more detailed analysis into their own choice of market segments, technology products and services.

Apple, Google, Microsoft – Paths of Expansion and Contraction [TUPdate]

There are many ways to serve technology users, and each family of operating systems – Apple’s, Google’s, and Microsoft – have expanded in different ways. While Windows-driven products are being actively used by nearly three-fourths (73%) of U.S. online adults, Apple MacOS and iOS devices and Google Android devices are each being used by half.

Device penetration by ecosystem

This is based on the results of our TUP/Technology User Profile 2018 and 2017 surveys, with sample sizes of 14,273 and 13,572, respectively, with 7,886 in the US.

Each OS family leads in their own way. Apple has more than 10% of Americans using one of five types of devices: Smartphone, Tablet, PC (Macs), and a TV set top box and service, or watch. Google Android/Chrome OS has a different set of five types, with speakers stronger than Apple and PCs weaker than any other. Microsoft Windows only has 10% or more of Americans using one of two categories: PC or Tablet.

Penetration Growth For Apple

While market penetration is one important measure, even more telling is active device quantity. The average number of actively used devices has shifted in the US as well as in other major markets. Between 2017 and 2018, the average number of Apple devices in active use rose from 2.2 to 2.3 in the US, 2.0 to 2.1 in China, and 1.6 to 2.0 in India. Meanwhile, Windows use has declined across all markets surveyed.

Apple Stabilizes In The US

Netting together the various Apple OS product categories, Apple’s footprint in the US did not change between 2017 and 2018. Growth within that base has been with a broader adoption of Apple TV. In India, Apple’s penetration has risen markedly, reaching 45% of online adults in India. Most of the growth has come from two strongly accepted products: Apple TV and Apple Watch.

Apple’s Expansion In India

Looking ahead

We’re likely to see a further fragmented world, with Apple focusing primarily on breadth and Google on initial penetration. Apple will continue to focus on deepening their relationships with their customers while Google will continue its conquest for new customers. Apple’s direction will be one of expanding services and commensurate revenue streams, serving their unique customer base more deeply. Meanwhile, Google’s direction will be mostly about supporting any devices or services that will help them expand their data acquisition and advertising businesses. Apple’s expanded emphasis on privacy and security will play well with their existing customers and more importantly may yet attract users further away from the Google ecosystem. Beyond the speeds and feeds of the latest gadget, these softer issues of privacy and security are likely to help Apple more than Google.

About this TUPdate

The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from multiple waves of TUP (Technology User Profile), including the 2018 edition which is TUP’s 36th continuous wave. This survey-based study details the use of technology products by a carefully-selected and weighted set of respondents drawn to represent online adults.


Current TUP subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.