In a market first, Chromebook manufacturers moved more of their wares than Apple did Macs in the USA last quarter, according to a statement that market research firm IDC made to The Verge. IDC figures that Apple sold 1.76 million Macs in the US last quarter, up from 1.56 million in the same quarter of 2015. IDC only breaks out PC shipments by manufacturer, not by operating system, so we don’t know exactly how many more Chromebooks were shipped compared to Macs.
While that shipment number is an important milestone for Chromebooks, it is a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison. Apple's Macs span form factors from thin-and-light laptops to workstation-style desktops, and they sell at premium prices. Chromebooks are almost entirely low-cost laptops from a variety of manufacturers. Apple’s lower-priced iPad is probably a more direct comparison to Chromebooks. The iPad sold 10.3 million units in the first quarter, according to IDC.
IDC notes that Chromebooks are becoming increasingly popular in K-12 educational institutions, where their simplicity and low cost might outweigh their performance limitations. Apple isn’t taking the rise of Chromebooks in education lying down, though. Back in April, Apple introduced a number of classroom-focused features for its iPad that could make the tablets more attractive to schools. Chromebooks are likely to continue their rise where cost is a primary consideration, though.