Chromebook sales on the rise

According to a new study by Gartner, Chromebook sales are expected to jump to 7.3 million units this year, an increase of 27 percent over last year.

That’s still not close to Apple’s iPad sales. If you extrapolate out from Apple’s most recent financial statements they should sell an estimated 48 million iPads this year. But according to Apple’s own figures iPad sales have been dropping for the past five quarters.

It’s not terribly difficult to guess why iPad sales are dropping while Chromebook sales are rising. The least expensive iPad, the iPad mini with a 7.9” screen sells for about $250 while the least expensive Acer Chromebook sells for $50 less, has an 11.6” screen and a keyboard.

To be fair, however, Chromebooks should be compared to MacBooks since they are both essentially laptops and a new MacBook will set you back $1,300 for the base model. That’s $1,100 difference.

Gartner says that most (70%) of the new Chromebook sales are going to schools which is also kind of a no-brainer. Schools don’t have the money to spend on MacBooks or even Microsoft Surface tablets. And when you’ve got a bunch of butter-fingered (and sticky-fingered) kids banging on them every day it’s less of a financial hit when they get dropped or stolen. Plus, if the parents want their kids to have the same device at home as they have in school it’s less expensive for them too.

Apple used to have an aggressive school discount program which, at the time, I thought was a brilliant idea. Get the kids hooked on Apple products at school and when they grow up they’ll want to buy more Apple products.

But these days, even with Apple’s school discounts, it is still cheaper to buy Chromebooks.