In a report by NPD Group Inc, Chromebooks have in the past eight months gained 20 to 25% of the U.S. market for laptops that cost less than $300, making Google’s laptops the fastest-growing part of the PC industry based on price.

The PC industry has been having a difficult time over the past few years. Declining desktop and laptop sales have hurt companies such as HP and Dell. The rise in smartphones and tablet devices as well as the poor reception of Windows 8 has eroded the PC market. Worldwide PC shipments fell 4% in 2012 and are forecast to decline 7.8% this year – the largest annual drop on record, according to researcher IDC.

Google’s first entry into the PC market with its Chromebook was dismissed as a basic laptop with limited appeal when it debuted two years ago. Now it has defied skeptics and is gaining share as the rest of the PC market shrinks.

NPD Analyst Stephen Baker said, “While we were skeptical initially, I think Chromebooks definitely have found a niche in the marketplace. The entire computing ecosystem is undergoing some radical change, and I think Google has its part in that change.”

Traditional Microsoft allies Lenovo and HP have both offered Chromebook models in recent months. And Chromebooks moved into retail locations last October with Best Buy and recently added Wal-Mart and Staples.

However, Gartner Inc report that Chromebooks still remain a small portion of the total U.S. market for laptops and netbooks. The devices had about 4 percent to 5 percent share in the first quarter, though that was up from 1 percent to 2 percent in 2012.

It appears the success of Chromebooks have been down to the low price and ease of use. Chromebooks can be picked up for as little as $199 and provide hassle-free computing with no viruses or maintenance to worry about.

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