Google challenges Apple with high-end laptop (Update 2)

Feb 21, 2013 by Glenn Chapman
The Google Chromebook Pixel laptop computer is shown at an announcement in San Francisco, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. Google is adding a new touch to its line of Chrome laptops in an attempt to outshine personal computers running on software made by rivals Microsoft and Apple. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Google unveiled a touchscreen notebook computer Thursday designed for high-end users, throwing down the gauntlet to Apple and its MacBooks.

Google said its Chromebook Pixel computers blending tablet and laptop technology, boasting heavyweight Intel chips and screens tailored for rich graphics, were released in the United States and Britain, starting at $1,299.

"People will give up a MacBook Air for this," Google Chrome senior vice president Sundar Pichai said.

A Pixel model featuring built-in connectivity to the Verizon mobile Internet service will hit the US market in April at a price of $1,449.

The newly unveiled version can connect online with wireless hot-spot technology or cables.

"It's a great looking product," Om Malik of technology news website GigaOM said at the Pixel debut in San Francisco.

"But Google is facing a selling problem, they have to compete on price originally and build a developer base for a high-end product."

Google is hoping enthusiasts will forego price comparisons with competitors such as MacBooks or laptops built on Windows 8 software and focus instead on the Pixel's touchscreen feature and the massive terabyte of Google Drive online data storage included.

"It seems like a pretty hard sell," said Forrester analyst James McQuivey. "I hope they are not planning to make a lot of money off it."

While the Pixel seems aimed at the MacBook market, it also faces fierce competition from touchscreen laptops based on Windows 8 software.

"It seems like more of a symbolic product release with Google trying to make a point that it is no longer just a low-end provider of devices," McQuivey said.

A man uses the Google Chromebook Pixel laptop computer after an announcement in San Francisco, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. Google is adding a new touch to its line of Chrome laptops in an attempt to outshine personal computers running on software made by rivals Microsoft and Apple. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group branded the Pixel move "a train wreck," arguing that notebook computers above $600 have historically not sold well and that Apple even sells a slick MacBook Air model for $999.

The booming popularity of tablet computers is also eroding the overall market for laptops.

"It just boggles the mind," Enderle said. "I have no clue what the hell Google was thinking."

The announcement adds a new dimension to the rivalry between the two tech giants, locked in a fierce battle over smartphones and tablets.

"This is for power users we expect to live completely in the cloud," Pichai said. "The Pixel is about pushing the state of the art."

Google custom built Pixel and is producing it with the help of electronics manufacturers in Taiwan.

"It is clear that touch is here to stay and that it is the future," Pichai said.

He described the Pixel screen resolution as superior to that on any laptop shipped today.

Within three months, Google will release Quickoffice software for handling documents and spreadsheets after complaints by Chrome notebook users over difficulties when trying to work with Microsoft's widely used Word or Excel software, according to Pichai.

Google's main intent with the Pixel is to more deeply mesh the California-based Internet giant's money-generating products and services into people's lives.

Google was working with third-party application developers to tailor Pixel programs.

"The goal is to get the Pixel in the hands of all our early adopters as well as developers," Pichai said. "We think our ecosystem will respond well."

Google introduced the first Chromebook in mid-2010 in a challenge to Windows operating software at the heart of Microsoft's empire.

The array of Chromebook makers has grown to include Acer, Lenovo, Samsung and Hewlett-Packard, with previous models offered at bargain prices when compared to high-end laptops.

Shifting operating software to banks of servers online means that Google updates programs and fends off hackers and malicious software.

The disk drive-free Pixel machines feature a quick startup and can dive into a user's desktop data from anywhere online.

Google remains devoted to its Android software for powering tablets and smartphones, following two paths when it comes to Internet-synched hardware, according to Pichai.

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User comments : 11

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1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 21, 2013
Hummmm.....Mac makes very good stuff. Give Google , ohh, 3-years. A linux notebook will still need an App-Verse, and android apps won't do. Mac has widgets that are fun and useful, and desktop Apps that save us from old-arsed boxed-software, from MicroSnot. Linux will need an iTunes, or a variant. This Google laptop does not win on price, so it has to win on services; ummm, better search experience, more GPU's I can program to when I release my game, and give me real cutting edge sound. Interface is still trackpad-ish, or external mouse, but can you drive my 52 inch display? Have a driver/codec for TV download or good content straight from Youtube. How about chat over youtube just like through Gmail?
No, I see some good competition coming down the road. But if Apple takes some of it's excessively excess cash and buys TV (NFL, NBA, GOLF, etc.) ...GAME OVER BABY!

word to ya muthas
packrat
3 / 5 (5) Feb 21, 2013
The $250 Google laptop isn't a bad little machine and will do probably most of the stuff the average (home)computer users wants but a $1000 version is going to need some serious software availability to ever get anywhere on the market. I honestly can't see this selling very well at the moment if ever.
kochevnik
3 / 5 (6) Feb 21, 2013
Libreoffice and KDE offer a full office suite. For specialized productivity apps install a virtual windose machine with free Virtualbox. Kubuntu works well with Virgin wireless broadband so I can be on the Internet anytime

Now winblows is reduced to a candy interface, trying to look like an underpowered cellphone. Pathetic. Soon a full Ubuntu cellphone will be selling with the Ubuntu desktop. Mr Gates should continue giving away all his hoarded billions. That's his true calling
dogbert
3.8 / 5 (9) Feb 21, 2013
The belief that people will be satisfied with all their information "in the cloud" seems to be the biggest flaw to me.

I want my data on my system. If I don't have access to the cloud, I will still have access to my data.
grwww
5 / 5 (4) Feb 21, 2013
If you are just going to browse the web, then yes you might find value in a chrome book, but certainly it costs more than lighter weight tablets like the iPad. If you really use the features of OS-X such as iPhoto, iMovie, iCal, and many other productivity apps, then chrome book has not real value.
Grallen
not rated yet Feb 22, 2013
The point of this product is to cater to professionals that develop software. Even low end devices will have similar power to this device at the end of a large development cycle. They are just spinning it that they might be aiming it at others as well.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Feb 22, 2013
Within three months, Google will release Quickoffice software for handling documents and spreadsheets after complaints by Chrome notebook users over difficulties when trying to work with Microsoft's widely used Word or Excel software, according to Pichai.


That's the major problem: Google is offering people a Baby's First Operating System (tm) with its closed ecosystem designed to run "apps" instead of an open software market with proper software suites from third party vendors.

Why the hell would anyone pay so much money for something that only runs "document writer lite" and a bunch of fart apps?

For specialized productivity apps install a virtual windose machine with free Virtualbox.


I hear you can run x86 programs directly on a WindowsRT machine by a translation service that passes the API calls to the operating system while translating the x86 binary to ARM on the fly. That way you don't have to rely on what Microsoft wants you to run on your machine.
baudrunner
1 / 5 (2) Feb 22, 2013
It seems that Google wants to own the cloud. That terabyte of free space will eventually drive the point home, and Google may have found a good marketing ploy to get people into sitting back and having a good think about the cloud. That's where the applications are going to reside, after all, and Google should give us some very powerful software to help us manage our business and our lives.

That being said, this is a science site, so I am disappointed that the article was not more specification-specific. Science fans want details, not promotional marketing articles.
Eikka
not rated yet Feb 22, 2013
That terabyte of free space will eventually drive the point home


The only point it drives home is that it would take 5000 hours to upload or download that much data over the average 3G network. Transferring just a DVD's worth of data probably takes more time than you have battery life in that laptop.

Hence why an SD card in hand is better than ten terabytes in the cloud.
NIS_0
not rated yet Feb 25, 2013
Good luck, Google's interface design is an insult to humankind.
ryggesogn2
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 25, 2013
No one seems to care that Google is in bed with the Obama regime?

"And every time you use Google or Gmail you could be contributing just a little bit more of your behavioral data to the left."
http://www.redsta...-agency/

But you all have nothing to hide, right?