Google's big Chromebook Pixel gamble: Can it upend Windows at a high price?

Google's big Chromebook Pixel gamble: Can it upend Windows at a high price?

Summary: With the Pixel, a Chromebook starting at $1,299, Google is trying to break free of good enough computing to dent the Windows juggernaut on the high end of the market.

SHARE:

Google's Chromebook has managed to be a thorn in Microsoft's Windows side with two key ingredients: Low pricing, an improving operating system and a decent cloud game. Today, the Chromebook is a poster child for good enough computing.

The launch of the Pixel today changes that equation. Now the Google-Microsoft duel will step up to another level. Google outlined hardware specs, screen pixels and other goodies, but I really only needed to see the price: $1,299 to start.

chromebook022113a

 

Also: Chromebook Pixel from Google: Pushing the cloud to the limit | Google's Chromebook gains momentum: Just enough to annoy Microsoft.

Gallery: Google's new Chromebook - pretty as a Pixel

Once you get over the initial shock you realize that Google is going with high-end pricing for a few reasons. Here's the short version:

  • A high-end price doesn't encroach on partners such as Asus and Samsung, who are selling cheaper Chromebooks.
  • There's not much for Google to lose with a high-end Chromebook.
  • And if this somewhat pricey Chromebook sells well it's going to hit the Windows ecosystem right where the margins are.

With that calculus, you'd take a flier on the Pixel too. Google said in its blog post:

With the Pixel, we set out to rethink all elements of a computer in order to design the best laptop possible, especially for power users who have fully embraced the cloud.

By going after the power user, Google is looking to go right into Microsoft's wheelhouse. Apple is also a target, but most likely a secondary concern.

What's unclear is whether power users are going to care about pixel density, touchscreen capability and swell components. On the surface, power users would go for those items. However, the catch is that you have to completely buy into Google's version of the cloud. Typically, the Chromebook means all Google---and the services with it---all the time.

Sure, Google has perks like a terabyte of Google Drive cloud storage included with the Pixel, but this Chromebook probably has a limited audience. Should Pixel grow a larger following it's going to be very dangerous.

Topics: Tech Industry, Cloud, Google, Hardware, Laptops, Windows 8

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

163 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • At that price only Google fanboys can afford

    Unless an enterprise is looking just to run google powered apps within their enterprise and give their employees.

    I don't know whether it is going to compete against MacBook Air or Windows 8 Hybrids, but definitely it is one expensive browser.
    Ram U
    • I'm a Google "fanboy"

      ... and I think this device is set to fail. At this price tag, running Chrome OS? If it was Android, well maybe, but Chrome OS? Most Web Apps and Sites aren't even touch friendly! And with all those made-for-touch Android apps on Google Play, finally being optimized for bigger screens, you come with a gorgeous high resolution touchscreen device that runs... Chrome?
      lucasls
      • Yes that has fail written all over it...

        it will be VERY entertaining to see what SJVN says about this...
        ScanBack
        • ScanBack NO fail in my book

          I ordered one for my wife and one for me. And here is why

          — Google today showed off a sleek touch-screen laptop based on its Chrome operating system, making a big bet on a premium-priced, cloud-based machine in direct aim at Apple.

          The Mountain View, Calif., search giant unveiled the new touch laptop, called the Chromebook Pixel, at a press event here. The touch-screen device has the highest resolution available in a laptop, says Google.

          "It's clear touch is here to stay and it's the future," said Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome at Google.

          Google's Chromebook Pixel, a sleek aluminum-encased machine, in many ways physically resembles Apple's Mac lineup.

          But the Pixel targets a generation of people whose photos and applications are accessed via remote servers from so-called cloud-based services. That's because nowadays people spend most of their time in a Web browser on Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon or any number of services. The new Chromebooks will provide people 1 terabyte of data storage in the cloud for three years.

          "We think this is a real game changer in terms of people living in the cloud," said Pichai.

          Google's Pixel screen tops the 2560-by-1600 resolution of Apple's Macbook Pro with its Retina display, which Apple has previously touted as the highest-resolution notebook ever.

          "What you're getting from our hardware in many ways is far superior" to Apple, said Pichai.

          Pixel laptops will be available at $1,299 for a 32 GB Wi-Fi version (shipping next week) and $1,449 for 64GB 4G LTE version (scheduled to ship the first week of April). People can order them today at the Google Play store and tomorrow at Best Buy stores.

          Google has been turning up the heat on Microsoft's Windows and Office franchise. The Chromebooks from their very beginning featured a boot up time of a few seconds and quick access to Chrome search, Maps, Gmail, YouTube and Docs. Now, the Pixel has added an integrated Google Drive with the massive storage addition.

          Hardware manufacturers of those non-touch models include Samsung, Acer, Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard, with prices starting at just $199..

          "Google smells blood" at Microsoft, said IDC analyst Crawford Del Prete. "They are an incredibly interesting proposition."

          The new Chromebook is just over half an inch thick and and weighs 3.3 lbs. The Pixel has a 12.85-inch display that has twice as many pixels as a standard HDTV, with 2560 X 1700 resolution, and uses Gorilla Glass, the durable glass used in Apple's iPhones.

          "It is the highest resolution that has ever been shipped on a laptop," Pichai said.

          The Pixel packs an Intel Core i5, a dual-core 1.8GHz processor, and has 4GB of DDR3 RAM memory. Google says the device's battery lasts up to 5 hours.

          Google's Chromebook Pixel is designed in house but made by several manufacturers based in Taiwan.
          Over and Out
          • Huh?

            All that power...to run a web app?

            The #1 complain about Windows RT is that it has no apps. And yet, it has more apps than this overpriced browser box.
            FatherJ
          • Hey, I own a Surface RT..

            .. and its a pretty darn good product. I prefer it over my iPad 2. It has a nicer screen and with the included keyboard/mouse certain websites function much better than a touch screen. Not to mention its pretty close in weight with iPad, including the keyboard. Its only going to get better.
            ryork272
          • Yup

            I agree! Just got a RT and it is indeed an excellent product. Enjoying using it. The all-important caveat being that I am not really into apps etc. So, the barrenness of the Win 8 app store doesn't really bother me. The only other thing I wish is that MS release a good email app or add a version of Outlook. I am guessing the former is more likely than the latter.
            crystalsoldier
          • Are you in the marketing department?

            I don't care what the thing being hawked is; the word "product" is usually used by the inane, poor technical writers (HP being the worst example of that), or marketers.

            It's a tablet. And, apart from the Surface devices that have split apart due to a poor manufacturing process (whoops), I'm sure they're great. I prefer my laptop with Win8 on it, though... registry or not, it allows me to do content creation as well as inane, addling consumption...
            HypnoToad72
          • really?

            You're splitting hairs with the keyboard issue! It's not as big as a problem as you see it. The Surface product line is sexy, fresh and offers excellent quality. There isn't an Android tablet on the market that even compares to the hardware and design of Surface RT. And there's no tablet that compares to the power of a Surface Pro which can do just about anything a casual user can throw at it!
            Rob.sharp
          • Yup

            And considered it is basically a Linux variant which is supposed to low in memory usage, you have to wonder why it needs 4GB of RAM.
            Gisabun
          • Dude!!!

            @OverandOut: There is not way you bought 2 of these dumb terminals for $1,400. They have inferior specs and you're married to Google. Good move dude! But hey, I have land in the Everglades I can sell you and a bridge in London.
            ryork272
          • ryork272 I don't know you but it sounds like your a bit jealous

            Google has the vision and if your unable to comprehend it....that's your problem....DUDE

            and by your resorting to attempting at putting me down only shows your lack of any intellectual comprehension skills
            Over and Out
          • No you have missed the boat!

            You see with a Windows or even (shock horror) a Mac book Pro, you can have a cloud future PLUS do everything on your notebook/ hybrid and at a cheaper price.
            This is a crazy concept that will fail.
            martin_js
          • You miss the points

            Quickoffice is integrated with Google Drive and you get 1 TB Google drive for 3 years. 1 TB Google drive cost $600/year. MS office cost more than $200 for business users. Mac book pro don´t have touch screen. Windows 8 tablets don´t have retina screen, need to be managed and you have to pay for MS office. Moreover you don´t have to worry about updates, patches, viruses, malware. Right now, this device is targeted for specific users and businesses which live with web applications The future will tell if more people will rely on web applications vs. desktop applications. HTML5, web sockets, rich and powerful web services will likely change the landscape. It is matter of time.
            oldman60
          • You can get a local 1 TB hard disk for less than a 100 bucks that

            you can keep forever. Why need the cloud when everything is available at your fingertips.
            Kunal Nanda
          • yea vision

            Like last month when gdrive had a serious meltdown.

            Who's going to try to suck and blow a tb of data through lte?
            LarsDennert
          • Data Usage Could Cost As Much As the Pixel

            each month with VZW's rates!
            aroc
          • "boot up time of a few seconds"

            Define "few": my Windows 8 Pro tablet starts from a cold boot in approximately 12-15 seconds, my laptop with the same os starts from a cold boot in roughly 20 seconds. And that's only when I actually shut them down- both are normally in sleep mode where boot to desktop (I bypass metro that way, but do use 'metro' for a lot of the apps) and the machines literally wake INSTANYLY- not even a "few seconds". So, tell me again why an overpriced BROWSER is better than a full, machine-based os that also instantly connects and syncs through SkyDrive?
            xplorer1959
          • haha

            My lenovo Windows 7 does a cold boot in... 10 MINUTES. Wake up - 20 secs.
            I know I have to reinstall windows to fix this. This how it is done in MS world.
            Just wait a while and your windows will crumble. MS software always does.
            chaosfire
          • Something smells

            No way I believe anyone bought 2 of these.
            Mythos7