Personal computer sales continue to fall as customers shift their attention to tablets. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s Chromebook, however, has been bucking that trend. Since a Chromebook is pretty similar to a PC, these dual trends suggest a shift not away from PCs, but one toward cheap and easy.
First there was the Netbook
Before Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) launched the iPad, the big craze in the PC market was the netbook. The draw was a mixture of small size, cheap price, and the use of solid state storage, which allowed for quick performance. Netbooks were perfect for someone who wanted a stripped down computer.
When the iPad came out, however, it quickly replaced the need for what amounted to tiny computers. As more tablets have hit the market, PC sales have been in a broad-based decline for more than a year and netbooks have fallen out of the limelight.
Only the Chromebook seems to be bucking that trend. The device has been on the market since 2011 and, according to Gartner research, has seen its market share about double over the past year. Although a low price is a key selling point, so, too, is convenience.
Like an iPad, Chromebooks are updated over the Internet automatically. Updating a Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows-based machine is hard to describe as automatic or easy. People like easy.
Easy is good
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) long ago realized that making its products work right out of the box was vital to its success. It focused on ease of use and found converts along the way.
Although Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will never partner with Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) to launch a Chromebook, it could very well try to make a similar offering built off of its iPad OS. Such a move would fit well with the company’s penchant for building easy-to-use products and its need to come out with a new product offering to keep sales heading higher.
Even if Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) doesn’t bring out a competing product, it still has a lock on the easy angle. That’s been an important part of the company’s impressive top and bottom line growth over the past decade, with sales going from $6 billion to $156 billion and earnings skyrocketing to over $44 a share from a meager $0.10.
Off around 40% from their highs because of concerns about slowing sales, shares now yield around 2.8%. This could be a good opportunity for growth and income investors to jump aboard a leader in the easy space.