With Chromebook Pixel, Google loses sight of the Chrome OS market

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Today, Google announced the Chromebook Pixel, and on paper at least, the Pixel is a beautiful laptop. It features a 12.85″ touch screen display with a brilliant 2,560 x 1,700 resolution. That’s over 4 million pixels and a whopping 239 PPI, much akin to that of Apple’s Retina MacBook Pro line. There’s 4GB of RAM, a dual-core Core i5 processor clocked at 1.8 GHz, and 32 or 64GB of onboard storage. Each purchase comes with 1TB of Google Drive cloud storage for 3 years, which should more than cover the duration of the device, and 12 free sessions of GoGo Inflight Internet.

The price on the Chromebook Pixel is where the plan begins to unravel. The 32GB variant will set you back $1,300, and the 64GB model, which adds LTE connectivity to the mix, retails for $1,450 (Order now on Google Play). If the Chromebook Pixel ran OSX, Windows Phone, or Ubuntu, it’d be drool-worthy. But it doesn’t. The Pixel runs Google’s ChromeOS platform, which is essentially a repackaging of the Chrome browser and the web apps which run inside of it. Sure, there are some added features needed to run a laptop, but from the outset ChromeOS has been geared towards people who don’t really need to run the customary programs like Adobe’s Creative Suite and Microsoft Office, and don’t play computer games.

Google’s own blog highlights the fundamental flaw with the Chromebook Pixel model. The company claims that “the goal of the Pixel is to make the pixels disappear, giving people the best web experience.” (emphasis = mine). And it likely succeeds. The Chromebook Pixel is a web dream machine, but it simply can’t really do anything else. You can’t run the programs you’ve grown accustomed to using. You can’t really play games, access your company’s VPN, or anything else that you normally would do outside of a browser. Sure, that model works for many, perhaps even the majority of people out there, but those same people aren’t shelling out over $1,000 for a computer.

ChromeOS was built for people who don’t need all the bells and whistles associated with owning a full-fledged computer. It’s built for people who live on the web, spend their computing time on Facebook, email, or catching up on the latest news. It’s built to be a browser. To date, it’s been largely successful since it’s stayed in the entry-level price range ($200 to $500), and fits that market to a tee. Consumers are comfortable spending $200 to $500 for a computer that lets them get on the internet and Facebook the day away. But at a starting MSRP of $1,300, the Chromebook Pixel makes for one hell of an expensive browser, and I can’t see them selling too many to the general public. I’d love to be wrong, and I like what ChromeOS has to offer to the general public, but ChromeOS isn’t suited for the high end of the market.

Editor’s Note: I obviously don’t have a Chromebook Pixel for review (I do kind of want one), though if you’re truly interested in the Pixel, CNET, Engadget, The Verge, and others have reviews or previews of the Chromebook Pixel live already, and we highly recommend you head to those sites and read up on it if you’re considering purchasing this tablet.

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This article was written by Anthony Domanico

Anthony is the Editor in Chief of Techgress, and a big mobile and gaming geek. He's covered mobile technology for the better part of three years, and gets excited about shiny, new things. He currently uses an iPhone, iPad Mini, and Nexus 7, but Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry devices are never too far away.

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It is very uncharacteristic of Google to go into a venture like this. People are used to seeing it offer useful things for free or for a minimal fee.


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