Why Google has built the expensive, powerful Pixel Chromebook

It's been a week since Google announced the Chromebook Pixel, and the reactions are installed in a rough consensus: laptop well, but not for you.

"The Pixel Chromebook is a machine for the software too," Nathan Wirecutter Edwards wrote in a representative to take. CNET to the examination Seth Rosenblatt made a similar point: "The high price Chromebook Pixel and cloud OS limitations make it impossible to recommend for most users."

All this raises the question - why release? Certainly, Google knew that by the introduction of a high-end laptop for basic operating system Chrome, it would be courting disbelief even passionate early adopters. When you charge $ 1,300 + for a web browser, "Just look at that screen!" not going away.

But while we were scratching their heads about the intentions of the pixels with Google, business leaders established a pretty convincing case for its marketing. JR Raphael, in a pointed piece in Computerworld, a relevant quote from the vice-president of engineering for Google, Linus Upson. The focus of Raphael

    The Chromebook Pixel ... brings together the best in hardware, software and design to inspire the next generation of Chromebooks. Pixels with technology, we decided to rethink all the elements of a computer to design the best laptop possible, especially for users who have fully embraced the cloud.

There are two great ideas there. Let's take them in turn.

The Pixel aims to inspire. Nobody denies that Chromebook turns heads. Many unveil the pixel, the last week has been devoted to examining the design of the laptop and construction - etched glass trackpad used in the subtle placement of microphones, the light bar on the fun outside that changes color to reflect the life of the battery. And this is to say nothing of the screen, the 4.3 megapixel showstopper from which the laptop gets its name.

Compare that to bargain laptops that led Chrome OS so far. The operating system began its life on the CR-48, a rubber brick a prototype that seemed to take its design elements Brutalists. Consumption patterns first, Samsung and Acer, have offered modest improvements in style and performance. That the first Chromebooks lacked style, they represented value - from $ 349, they offered a good deal for workers and students who lived mainly in the web browser and I wanted more power than they could get from a tablet.

The problem is that Chromebooks have yet to escape the perception that they are lower for consumers who simply can not afford better. Google's vision of the cloud extends to the whole of the market - the low end, the high end and everything in between. So far, there has not been a Chromebook upscale. As a result, you're probably never going into a meeting and see an executive wearing under his arm. Walk around the Google campus in Mountain View and you are struck by the number of Googlers working on MacBook. But of course, they are: Apple laptops are designed with style, sophistication and power - few adjectives that attribute to the Samsung Series 5. The Pixel is an attempt to respond to a style of style and power with the power - to show Web developers, manufacturing partners, and its own employees that Chrome is an operating system worthy of serious computer first Class.

The Pixel could inspire developers to rapidly create rich web applications that take advantage of features contact - a feature quickly becoming the norm on laptops. It could inspire manufacturing partners to launch smoother, more powerful Chromebooks themselves to higher prices of $ 250 and $ 350, they were able to charge to this day. And it could inspire Googlers to abandon their MacBooks for a solution house has its own advantages. This is an ideal scenario, of course - but if you're Google, it is a worth pursuing.

Which brings us to the second important reason Google says it has developed the mask:

A pixel is a tool for advanced users. When Google does not sell Chromebook design, it sells functionality for people who spend all day on their laptops. Equipment boots in seconds, connects to Verizon's 4G LTE network, and comes with 1 terabyte of storage Google Drive for three years - which normally costs $ 1,800.

At the same time, ie the pixel is "power users" feels like a case of marketing materials Succeed reality. Advanced users such as laptops that are lightweight, weighs 3.3 kilos the Pixel, a third of a pound heavier than the 13-inch MacBook Air. Advanced users need battery life, the Pixel capped around five hours, the MacBook is approaching seven years.

And while workers whose companies use Google Apps you feel comfortable on the pixel is quite absent from Chrome OS to make it difficult to use as a main computer. After using it for a week now, I am constantly missing native apps that allow me to work: Evernote, OmniFocus, Tweetbot, 1Password, Rdio. In most cases, I can do with a combination of Web applications and extensions for Chrome, but the experience is less than -. "Power users" and belies the notion that it is a computer needy, greedy It turns out that the pixel is more than one computer for what might be called fanatics clouds - the specified users to store almost all of their data online, in exchange for the convenience and safety . It is easy to see why Google does not want to cultivate fanatics cloud - more browse the web equals more advertising revenue. But Chrome OS allows users on average - to say nothing of power users - constantly aware of the trade-offs that they do. (For a good list, see David Pogue.)

However, the improvement of Chrome OS over the last four years means that users make fewer compromises than before. HTML5 is the improvement and web applications with it, and the result is that it is now unfair to dismiss Chromebooks as web browsers simple. Navigation is still the only thing they do best, but you can do real work on a Chromebook (I wrote this piece on a pixel, not all that much slower than I could have on my MacBook Air ). Over time, you may be able to work faster on a Chromebook as you can on a laptop more traditional.

Ultimately, the pixel is a case of a company puts its money where its mouth is. If Chrome OS was never anything other than a curiosity - and let's face it, it's nearly four years and has not exactly set the computing world on fire - Google had to do something dramatic . Part of this can be done on the software side, but a system of world-class operating needs of consumer equipment. Material grows large operating systems before.

And if the comments that the pixel is not for most people are right - Google itself, but he admits it. This does not mean that it is a failure, however. If in a year, Samsung and Acer are releasing upscale Chromebooks their own, and Web applications are closer to parity in the native software, and Googlers use pixels as their main engines, Google can call his expensive laptop successful. Chrome OS finally the concept car to advance his vision of cloud computing pure. Now the company can only watch and wait because he sees that the world is the concept.
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