chromebookThough still small, the ultraportable segment of the PC market is turning out to be a bright spot in an otherwise declining PC market, with shipments surging 65 percent year over year in 1Q 2014 to reach 5.1 million units worldwide, according to the latest market data report from ABI Research.

ABI forecasts growth will continue through 2019, with global shipments of ultraportable PCs expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26 percent, to 109.4 million units.

Ultraportable PC Forecast
Commenting on ABI’s outlook, research analyst Stephanie Van Vactor stated, ““Ultraportables continue to be a strong force in the PC market and ABI Research expects shipments to continue growing through 2019. While the PC market’s growth is declining, it is also continuing to fragment, with a plethora of choices including variations in OS, form factor (i.e., hybrid, convertible, swivel) display size, and weight/thickness.

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“With ASPs forecast to drop by 6.5% year on year, the year 2014 will focus on the budget-conscious consumer and vendors are responding to the changing market landscape with devices like Ultraportables.”

Chromebooks’ shipments were another stand-out performer in terms of PC market growth during 1Q. “Initial Chromebook adoption was slow due to consumer hesitation and questionable need, but Chromebooks have now managed to present themselves as a disruptive force and ABI Research expects shipments to grow by 56% year over year for the year 2014. Chromebooks are gaining interest among consumers due to their low-price point, cloud services, and vertical market integration, especially among businesses and institutions,” Van Vactor added.

More broadly, the PC market overall will struggle to generate high rates of growth, and may never attain the levels of previous decades, according to ABI, “due to the overcrowding of the market.”

Cost, connectivity and greater reliance on cloud services will be the factors driving growth in the ultraportable segment of the PC market, ABI says.

As expected, notebook PC shipments slowed post-holiday season but the market remains strong. “The year 2014 will be an important deciding factor for Chromebooks and the trajectory of the notebook PC market in general,” ABI asserts. “Cloud services and storage are becoming more essential components for the mobile industry and users are interested in devices that offer these services.”

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