Chromebook sales overtake Macs for the first time

Chromebook logo on a laptop

Google's Chromebooks have overtaken sales of Apple's Macs for the first time since the cheap and cheerful cloud-based laptops were announced five years ago.

That's according to research firm IDC, which reported 1.76 million Macs shipped in the latest quarter.

"Chrome OS overtook Mac OS in the US in terms of shipments for the first time in 1Q16," IDC analyst Linn Huang confirmed to The Verge, which pinned Chromebook sales at about two million for the first quarter of the year.

Chromebooks are much cheaper devices than Apple's Mac lineup, with the former ranging from £179 to £299 excluding Google's own top-end Pixel laptop, while Apple's MacBook Air starts from £799.

So while Google's partners are shipping more units than Apple, the latter will likely still be pulling in more revenue, though shipments were down by two percentage points in the first quarter from the same period in 2015.

Indeed, the company that may be more nervous about the success of Chromebooks is Microsoft, as standard PCs running Windows saw double-digit declines.

That said, the IDC Chromebook figures sales are only in the US and largely made up of shipments to schools, where Google has had particular success with its Chromebook platform. "Chromebooks are still largely a US K-12 story," Huang said.

Chromebooks could be set for more mainstream success after Google confirmed Android apps would be supported on the Chrome OS from this autumn.