Google's Pixel Chromebook Is a Distraction at the Wrong Time
It's no secret that Chromebooks--portable computers based on Google's Chrome OS platform--have become hot in the market. If anyone doubted that Google could become a big player in the operating system space, it's time to drop those doubts. Acer's President recently told Bloomberg that its C7 Chromebook accounted for 5 percent to 10 percent of Acer’s U.S. shipments since being released in November.
This week, Google's Pixel Chromebook was announced--a cloud-focused laptop with a 12.85-inch 2,560-by-1,700 display, and the highest pixel density you can buy — 239 ppi. The Pixel is a touchscreen device that sells for the remarkably high price of $1,299 to start. There are a few reasons why this may not be a good direction for Google to head in.
There were rumors of a touchscreen Chromebook long before the Pixel arrived. In fact, back in November, I wrote a post called "Why Google Shouldn't Pursue a Touchscreen Chromebook." In that post, I wrote:
"Making the leap from the touchscreen keyboard in Chrome OS to a touchscreen device wouldn't take a lot of difficult engineering, but Google is just beginning to get traction with its strategy surrounding low-cost Chromebooks and free incentives that come with them. And, Google is already a player in the low-cost tablet space with its Nexus tablets, where it is doing just fine with the Android operating system and all the apps available for it."
"Meanwhile, Apple's iPad maintains a firm grip on the larger tablet space and Google would have to play catch-up to get anywhere near the number of available apps that there are for the iPad."
"Google is also just beginning to come to terms with what it is to offer support for hardware and associated software platforms. In this area, Apple and other competitors have much more experience."
One can just envision the engineer at Google who figured out that it would be easy to slap a touch interface on Chrome OS and become a player alongside devices like the iPad and Microsoft's Surface. But with new device types come the need for staunch support--which Google is only getting used to providing, and robust app ecosystems.
Some Google fans may shell out $1,299 to start for a machine that only lets them use cloud apps, but there are lots of users who would rather have a MacBook or a completely stocked Linux laptop instead. The Pixel looks like a distraction right when Google was really getting it together with its operating systems and device strategy.