Chromebooks outsold the Mac in 2020

Macbook Air M1
Macbook Air M1 (Image credit: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • New research indicates that Chromebooks outsold Macs in 2020.
  • According to IDC, both macOS and Chrome OS grew at the expense of Windows last year.

Figures from IDC indicate that Chromebooks outsold the Mac in 2020 for the first time ever.

As reported by GeekWire:

New numbers show 2020 was the first year that Chromebooks outsold Macs, posting impressive market share gains at the expense of Windows. Computers powered by Google's Chrome OS have outsold Apple's computers in individual quarters before, but 2020 was the first full year that Chrome OS took second place. Microsoft's Windows still retained majority market share, but also took a big hit as both Chrome OS and macOS gained share.

The report comes from an IDC analyst Mike Shirer, who confirmed the findings to GeekWire.

Market Share

Market Share (Image credit: IDC / GeekWire)

As you can see from the above chart, it was a close race between Apple and Google for computer OS shares, but Chrome OS started to pull away towards the end of the year. Even though Chrome OS overtook macOS, both saw their market share expand in 2020 at the expense of Windows. From the report:

In Q1 2020, Apple and Google were neck-and-neck: Windows grabbed 87.5% market share, macOS took 5.8%, and Chrome OS captured 5.3%. But in Q2 2020, Windows fell to 81.7%, macOS grew to 7.6%, and Chrome OS jumped to 10.0%.Q3 2020 and Q4 2020 confirmed the trend: Windows dropped further to 78.9% for Q3 and then 76.7% for Q4; macOS grew to 8.4% for Q3 and then fell back to 7.7% for Q4, while Chrome OS had 11.5% for Q3 and then 14.4% share for Q4. The Q4 results are particularly notable as the fourth quarter tends to be the biggest for PC shipments. While macOS widened its lead over Chrome OS in Q4 2019, Chrome OS came roaring back in Q4 2020.

Over the year, Windows saw its share fall 4.9% from 85.4% in 2019 to 80.5% in 2020. Chrome OS and macOS grew 4.4% and 0.8% to market shares of 10.8% and 7.5% respectively.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9

  • So this is totally misleading similar to the Android outsells iPhone statement. Everyone in the PC business sells a Chromebook, so that 100 manufactures vs. 1.
  • If what you were saying is true, ChromeOS would have outsold macOS long ago. Indeed, Android didn't surpass the iPhone for a single quarter until 1Q2010 and didn't for a full year until 2011.
  • Don't know what's misleading about it. Things running ChromeOS sold more than things running MacOS. It's irrelevant how many companies make them. The multitude of styles and prices, due to multiple manufacturers is one of the things that make Chromebooks attractive. And Android does outsell iOS worldwide, by a big margin. Only in NA is iOS on top. You don't have to take my word, just Google it. Is it a problem? Looking at Apple's bank account, I think not.
  • GeekWire loves their Macs and iPhones so that explains why their analysis gave macOS the best possible spin. 1. Apple's market share only increased from 7% in 2019 to 8.5% in 2020. They went from 18.4 million Macs sold in 2019 to 22.5 million in 2020. 2. Geekwire is making it seem like ChromeOS needed a crazy blowout year due to COVID-19 to accomplish this. In reality, ChromeOS nearly caught macOS in 2019. 17 million Chromebooks sold in 2019 versus the aforementioned 18.4 million Macs. And this was with 2019 being an underwhelming year for ChromeOS. In 2020 ChromeOS made a lot of advances on the hardware and software front, which are going to continue in 2021. If Google FINALLY releases their custom ARM chip for ChromeOS, even more so.