Chromebooks are set to explode in popularity over 2014, with the increasing number of products available seeing the market become both more lucrative and more competitive.

Information technology research firm Garnter has predicted that 5.2 million Chromebooks will be sold internationally this year, representing a 79% growth on figures from 2013. This rapid increase will not be isolated to this year; the company forecast that the global Chromebook market will see an almost three-fold increase in the next few years, with 14.4 million of the computers projected to be sold in 2017.

Nonetheless, this does not represent a massive proportion of the personal computer sector. Approximately 296 million traditional computers were shipped in 2013, with 195 million tablets sold and with 2.4 billion PCs, mobile phones, tablets and ultramobiles forecast to be shipped in 2014.

Samsung manufactured the lion’s share of Chromebooks in 2013, controlling 64.9% of the market. Acer, in second place, took a 21.4% share, while HP took 6.8%, new entrant Lenovo took 6.7%, and Dell took just 0.3%. But 2014’s figures could look considerably different – there are now eight Chromebook models now available, with many new vendors branching out into this market due to the declining popularity of netbooks and other challenges within the IT sector.

However, Chromebooks, which run Google Chrome OS and typically store data in the cloud, will remain a niche interest for the foreseeable future, Gartner added. For example, of the 2.9 million Chromebooks sold last year, around 85% were for the educational sector, with 82% sold in North America. Gartner said that if vendors wish to reach untapped audiences, they will need to improve the features their products offer by developing larger solid-state drives and improving memory access and connectivity.

So while Chromebooks potentially have great functionality in a wide range of industries, and could be seen in hotels, banks, estate agents and financial service companies, it might be a while until they achieve the ubiquity other personal computing devices have secured.

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