PC makers hopeful that Chromebook refresh cycles about to kick in

Kids can be rough despite efforts to keep budget computers out of landfill

A Chromebook refresh looms despite Google trying to extend the life of laptops by offering a decade of service updates for models sold since 2021.

Sales of the hardware, which flew off the shelves during the pandemic, ran out of steam in 2022 after buyers had their fill. The US education market generally accounts for 70 to 80 percent of annual orders. The sharp downturn left some vendors holding excess inventory.

Yet the refresh cycle may be starting again, according to HP boss Enrique Lores. "So we have started to see a pickup of demand in education, and this, especially in the US, is a Chromebook opportunity," he told an audience of investors at Bernstein's 40th Annual Strategic Decision Conference.

He forecast a flurry of activity in 2025 for "many million of units" from education but downplayed the impact on HP's balance sheet because the company pulled back from the product line after the pandemic.

Lores said: "We are going after these deals because we think it's good, but it's not like ... a huge impact on the company."

In September, Google committed to a policy change that means service updates for models sold since 2021 will receive a decade's worth of support, up from eight years. This came amid pressure from right-to-repair advocates US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) to make devices easier to fix and therefore reduce environmental waste.

"All Chromebook platforms will get regular automatic updates for ten years – more than any other operating system commits to today," Prajakta Gudadhe and Ashwini Varma, senior directors of engineering for ChromeOS, said at the time.

Mikako Kitagawa, director analyst at Gartner, is also expecting Chromebook buying cycles to kick in again this year.

"It is true that the education buyers tend to extend the life cycle," she told The Register. "At the same time, the education Chromebooks could be a bit shorter life cycle as the device can be treated roughly by students (kids!).

"Educators will try to use the device as much as they could, but also they have to replace the broken ones. Our expectations are that the Chromebook refresh will start in 2024 and continue through 2026."

Marco Andresen, global chief operating officer for Lenovo's Intelligent Devices Group, agreed that Chromebooks are "still mostly" sold to the education sector.

"I hear many tenders coming around the world on Chrome so you could say there is kind of a refresh coming keeping the category alive and kicking. I think many schools that have built their infrastructure on Chrome might continue to use Chrome indeed," he told The Register.

Chromebook sales reached record highs in 2022, swelled to almost 37 million units, then dropped to 19.2 million the following year. Sales decreased further last year. Acer, Dell, Lenovo, and HP remain the main protagonists.

The devices have an average four-year life cycle, and PIRG research earlier this year indicated that longer lasting Chromebooks might just spare taxpayers up to $$1.8 billion in hardware replacement costs. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like