Skip to main content

Windows PCs getting priority has tightened Chromebook supply, says IDC

Office 2021 Windows11
Office 2021 Windows11 (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • The global chip shortage of the past two years has left many vendors and suppliers unable to meet demands.
  • As a result of the shortage, certain devices have been prioritized over others.
  • According to IDC, such was the case with Windows PCs, which gained priority over Chromebooks when it came to securing components for manufacturing in 2021.

It's a dog-eat-dog world out there thanks to the global chip shortage that's been complicating supply chains across industries for approximately two years now. And when vendors have to pick between allocating components for Chromebooks or Windows PCs, it looks like the latter camp wins.

According to a new report by IDC, Chromebook shipments saw a 63.6% year-over-year (YoY) decline in the fourth quarter of 2021. Jitesh Ubrani, a research manager for IDC's Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers team, attributed the decline in part due to Chromebook demand having been more or less satisfied in Europe and the U.S. However, he also pinned a chunk of the decline on Windows devices edging out Chromebooks.

"Supply has also been unusually tight for Chromebooks as component shortages have led vendors to prioritize Windows machines due to their higher price tags, further suppressing Chromebook shipments on a global scale," Ubrani said.

It's true that 2021 was a big year for PCs in terms of units shipped. Not to mention, Windows 11's arrival in October certainly helped PCs secure a spotlight in the public eye for the fourth quarter of the year. Never forget how much marketing Microsoft did to make sure that Windows was at the forefront of everyone's minds.

It's unclear how long the component crisis will result in vendors prioritizing certain products over others, but one thing's for certain: When it comes to the global chip shortage, we're not out of the woods yet.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

23 Comments
  • That's great and reasonable too.
  • Why's it "reasonable"? It's not reasonable if you want a Chromebook.
  • Chrome books yuck.
    Windows pc far better.
  • What's a Chrome book? Doesn't take much to show your ignorance if you can't even spell it correctly. You do realise you're comparing apples and oranges, right? Windows sucks at mobile first desktop computing, sucks at battery, sucks at OS management. ChromeOS is setup, apps installed and up and running in 10-15 minutes out of the box. Can't do that on Windows. If you want a light, portable, excellent battery at all price points, mobile Internet PC. ChromeOS wipes the floor with Windows. If however, you need full fat Desktop apps obviously Windows. Different use cases dude. I use both. I'd take my Chromebook when going on a trip over my Surface Pro any day.
  • As should be the case, as Windows devices are used more in business and enterprise. Can't have demands hampered by Chromebooks, when companies/agencies need to upgrade or add laptops to their workforce. Especiallly, with teleworking full or part-time is at an all time high.
  • "As it should be" hmm. Firstly, Chromebooks are used more in education (in The USA anyway, Windows in The UK) and secondly, no Windows isn't used more in enterprise. Guess you've not heard Google has a successful enterprise grade office suite that's built for ChromeOS? Google Workspace. "Can't have demands hampered by Chromebooks". How does Windows run Web Apps better than a Chromebook exactly? It doesn't. The business world is as much about Web+Cloud solutions as Desktop apps these days. You're speaking from the narrow perspective of a "Windows only user". Reality is both Windows and Chromebooks are used in businesses. Your use of the word "teleworking" dates your comment somewhat. It's remote working is more popular than ever (in the developed world). Sure video calls are still happening, but workers aren't on the phone all day like they were a decade ago. It's Instant messaging that's at an all-time high.
  • This is the wrong place to be shilling for Google.
  • Eh, I like it. I say we keep bradavon on tap as our Chromebook correspondent. And I'll even join him. Down with Windows. Boo. Chromebooks deserve an equal space in the market. Rah rahhhh.
  • Are you high bro? Windows is by far used more in business/ Enterprise than any other system. You're actually here trying to defend Chrome OS? Too funny. Wake up brotha.
  • I hear your point and you're right. My view is based more so on government and the applications they run. But, let's examine your response, based on the mere fact that the article clearly states that chips for Windows PC takes precedents over Chromebooks. Why do you think that is? Most, if not all government government agencies really mostly on Windows PCs and laptops. When it's time to upgrade said devices, they need to be able to replace them within a reasonable time frame. That was my point. Additionally, despite Google enterprise offerings, it still doesn't compare to the usage of Windows. It's not a matter of which can run web apps better or not. That was never my point. Yes, many people use Google apps, but in business and enterprise, particularly government, Windows is still the primary OS and they need devices that run Windows, not Chrome. I telework regularly and my agency doesn't even look at Google. Everything is Microsoft based, with the occasional Zoom or Adobe meeting or training, with the later two not being used in the past year or more. Teams has been the go to.
  • The utility of Windows is clear. While some do not need the full power of windows to do all tasks, most need it from time to time, especially when you are "going to School" while sitting in your house or working from home.
  • Nope. The utility of the web is clear. Chromebooks run "the web" just as well as any Windows PC. You could argue better. Chrome isn't the memory hog on ChromeOS it is Windows.
  • Then why do people buy more Windows devices versus Chromebooks?
  • Chromebooks are literal e-waste
  • You're showing your ignorance.
  • I'd rather my kids used a windows device rather than a chomebook. I get what Google are trying to do but at the moment when mine leave school they will work with Windows and office. When that changes and chromebooks are used in enterprise I'll change my mind. Its sad that kids are given devices to learn on, then something different to work on. I see Ms are trying to address that and should. I grew up on BBC micros and archimedes. No use at all apart from teaching me Basic. Then vb. Net.
    All those machines are dead now, however if I'd grown up on Windows or chromeos what would I choose when leaving education?
  • They're more likely to work with the web than Office when they end up leaving school. Yes Office is still big but it's not a growing sector. Web+Cloud are at least as big and it's only going to go in on direction. "Its sad that kids are given devices to learn on, then something different to work on" Don't know how you work that out. It's the same Chrome browser on ChromeOS and Windows. Besides whether you use Windows, CromeOS or MacOS they all function in much the same way. Kids don't know any different to a world with The Internet and devices. They'll be fine. Besides terms of education, it's only USA I'm aware of that's bought into Chromebooks. UK schools still go through the pain of managing Windows. Yes if you require Desktop apps Windows makes sense. I agree there. But Chromebooks bring a lot of benefits Windows sucks at. ChromeOS is setup, apps installed and up and running in 10-15 minutes out of the box. Can't do that on Windows. If you want a light, portable, excellent battery at all price points, mobile Internet PC. Gotta be ChromeOS. I use both. When I go on a trip I always take my Chromebook over Surfac Pro. Why the hell do I need a full fat OS just to browse the web etc...? Old timers like us need to realise Web+Cloud is where the future is headed.
  • Windows sucks at mobile first desktop computing, sucks at battery, sucks at OS management. ChromeOS is setup, apps installed and up and running in 10-15 minutes out of the box. Can't do that on Windows. If you want a light, portable, excellent battery at all price points, mobile Internet PC. ChromeOS wipes the floor with Windows. If however, you need full fat Desktop apps obviously Windows. Different use cases dude. I use both. I'd take my Chromebook when going on a trip over my Surface Pro any day.
  • what is this "chip shortage" and the story behind it.?? i wish windows central would do an explanatory article on this. i keep hearing "chip shortage" all the time these days, and its not just laptops. the other day i was looking around for a sony a6600 and i learnt sony has temporarily discontinued production of cheaper cameras like a6600 or zv-e10 and instead focussing on more expensive full frame models. reason? -- "CHIP SHORTAGE"!!!
    PLEASE WC TEAM!! write about this issue, explaining in a simple style.
    thanks!!
  • Good call! We've been shopping for a new lease and there is literally an 8 month wait for some cars, i.e. NO inventory -- and we keep hearing the same there as well, "chip shortage." Would be interesting know more about it as well as what companies are doing to alleviate and what if anything companies are doing to prevent such a shortage in the future.
  • The answers to all your questions are here and in the backlinks therein. Also, the backlinks in the article we're commenting on. Hence why they're there.
  • I'm going to assume this is sarcasm given the dozens of in-depth posts we've written explaining what the chip shortage is (in "simple style," no less), but please, do yourself a favor and click the backlinks in the article. The whole situation is a rabbit hole, but it's one worth educating yourself on. Here's a link to help get you started.
  • Oh no, it wasn't sarcasm at all but a genuine questionn. I'll follow the links as you said. By simple style - all i meant was just one article to cover all the basics of this topic. I wasn't making fun or anything. Long term Windows central reader, since 2010 when I first heard about Lumias.