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Summary:

For a web-based computer, Chrome OS devices aren’t yet showing much overall web traffic. That’s the gist of Chitika’s latest report although the share of Chrome OS usage has doubled in five months.

Toshiba Chromebook

If Google Chromebooks are top sellers on Amazon and have growing sales in the education market, where are all the users?

That’s the question I walked away with after reading Chitika’s latest research report. On Thursday, the company shared data gathered from its ad network showing that only 0.2 percent of all North American web traffic was from Chrome devices. That’s a doubling from five months ago, but is still a tiny figure overall.

By comparison, Chitika says people using Linux to hit websites on its ad network accounted for 1.9 percent of all usage.

Chrome_OS_Usage_Sept-13_to_Jan-14

I’ll disclose that I’m a happy Chromebook user; I have been for nearly two years. So I may have some bias, but I think the numbers are skewed low in Chitika’s dataset. I checked our own traffic data and the percentage of visits from Chrome OS devices, per Google Analytics, is double that from Chitika’s data.

In 2013, 0.33 percent of Gigaom’s traffic came from Chromebooks and Chromeboxes, for example. So far in 2014, the figure is higher: 0.41 percent. Are these massive figures? Of course not. By and large more web traffic comes from Windows computers, Macs and even iOS devices.

I’m not suggesting that Chrome OS has disrupted any markets yet. I do see the potential for that to happen but it’s a long way off, if it’s going to happen at all, because it’s a paradigm shift in computer. For now, it’s entirely possible that Chrome OS devices simply aren’t selling well or they’re still very much a secondary browsing device. As more offline Chrome apps become available, let’s see what happens.

  1. In all fairness, Chrome OS has been usable since late 2009 with commercial hardware available since mid 2011. Personally I cannot think of another product (computing or not) that utterly failed to take off for so long, before eventually finding great success. Some *concepts* from Chrome OS may eventually echo in some disruptive product (the same way, say, computer mice echoed ideas from ball-driven controllers of the 1940s and 1950s), but a “wait and see stance” on Chrome OS itself is becoming rather difficult to justify.

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  2. the people i know who own Chromebooks fall into two categories:

    1. geeks/hobbyists who own a whole bunch of different machines and probably do the majority of browsing on desktops.

    2. very light users who bought a chromebook for price and/or simplicity with no intention of becoming heavy web users.

    this is mind it would not surprise me if most chromebooks end up being lightly used even as they gain market share in terms of units sold.

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    1. Fair points, Frank. There’s still a big brand / product awareness gap for Google when it comes to Chrome OS devices. Putting Chromebooks in a Best Buy end-cap isn’t going to cut it.

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  3. Using ads to count usage is … silly? It is data but has little value except to the ad people.

    On a pc/mac/iOS/linux device – first step: install Chrome. Second step: install adblock.

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    1. “On a pc/mac/iOS/linux device – first step: install Chrome. Second step: install adblock.”

      Something done by techies, a tiny portion of the overall web browsing public.

      Anytime someone starts talking about web browser user agent changes and ad blocker vis-a-vis market share numbers, they’ve lost the argument.

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  4. Scot McSweeney-Rober Friday, February 21, 2014

    I seem to recall it took Windows a few years to catch on.

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