Google’s (GOOG) Chromebooks were two of the three best selling laptops at Amazon (AMZN) this holiday season. Chromebooks are super cheap laptops that are based entirely on the Chrome browser. You need an Internet connection for the laptops to do anything. But, for the most part, people are Internet-connected when they’re using a laptop, so it’s not a huge limitation.
In a press release, Amazon listed “Samsung Chromebook; ASUS Transformer Book; Acer Chromebook” as the three best selling laptops on Amazon.com for the holiday season. The cheapest Samsung (SSNLF) Chromebook is $192. The cheapest Acer Chromebook is $199. The Asus Transformer is $400 at the low-end, and $900 at the high end.
We wouldn’t draw any sort of grand, sweeping conclusions from this data point. Holiday shopping on Amazon can be tricky to interpret. A few years ago, it bragged about the Kindle Fire being a huge seller, but in terms of actual market share, the Kindle Fire is tiny.
Also, Kindle Fire sales spiked during the holiday then fell in the next quarter. As a result, we called the Fire the “fruitcake” of tablets. That is to say, it’s something you get for someone else, but wouldn’t buy for yourself. Likewise, Chromebooks could be something you buy for someone else because they’re inexpensive machines, but not something you would want for yourself. Or, we think they could be cheap machines for kids who need computers.
All that said, we wouldn’t trivialize the success of Chromebooks at Amazon. It seems like there’s something going on with Chromebooks. In, October, Google said 22% of all U.S. schools were using Chromebooks. Microsoft has recently started running anti-Chromebook ads. We thought the ads were unusual, and out of nowhere.
Now, it seems like Microsoft realized Chromebooks were eating into consumer sales of Windows 8 laptops and was trying to weaken sales.