I am rather surprised by Google’s interesting move into the high-end laptop space with its new Chromebook Pixel. The specs resemble the entry level 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro in some respects but the Chromebook Pixel has a touchscreen, slower processor, less storage, less memory, and the option of built-in LTE. I’m impressed with the design and would buy one immediately if I knew I could run OpenBSD or at least Ubuntu on it. Why is Google moving into this space?
Google is quite literally targeting business users with the Chromebook Pixel. Most consumers will not spend $1299 for a WiFi Chromebook or $1449 for a Chromebook with LTE. Google Apps for Business is now used by many, many businesses and much of what typical computer users do is covered by a Chromebook and Google’s array of services. Another advantage of the Chromebook Pixel is that companies do not need to worry about lots of software upgrades and system management as would typically be true of a regular PC system.
The hard sell is for power users. I would never buy a Chromebook Pixel for $1299 just to run Google web apps. The latest ARM-based Samsung Chromebook, on the other hand, is a much easier sell for $249. I can definitely understand buying one for the kids or just to do some browsing and writing around the house or out and about. In my opinion, the true interesting use case of the ARM Chromebook will be running Ubuntu 13.04 for ARM when it comes out in April.
Hopefully installing alternate operating systems on the Chromebook Pixel will not be too difficult since it uses a standard Intel Core i5 instead of a different architecture like the ARM Chromebook. I’m glad to see Google making such an interesting Chromebook in the Chromebook Pixel. Perhaps other companies will follow suit with excellent designs that might pose options if you want to run open source operating systems with design similar to Apple’s excellent designs.