Google Chromebooks provide a new approach to personal computing. Chromebooks may look and feel like traditional laptops, but they are a decidedly different product. Still, this has not stopped Google from taking on the personal computing industry head-on.
With last week’s release of the Chromebook Pixel, Google has solidified its position as a third player in the consumer personal computer market. Chromebooks first entered the market in summer 2011 and were purchased primarily by schools. In the fall of 2012, Samsung’s $249 Chromebook debuted and has remained one of Amazon’s bestselling personal computers ever since. With the release of the Pixel, Google is pushing Chrome OS into the high-end market and showing that it is capable of producing a premium product.
Google has advertised the Pixel as a device “for what’s next.” The Pixel suggests Google’s intentions for Chrome OS by shipping with even more Google Drive storage than prior Chromebooks, coming with Quickoffice integration for offline document viewing (with editing coming soon), a screen with the highest pixel density currently available, and a touchscreen for interacting with an operating system and an internet that are not yet fully touch-friendly. The Pixel may never become the bestselling Chromebook, but it signals Google’s commitment to the operating system and, perhaps, its vision for the web.
Google is betting that the web is powerful enough to provide most of a consumer’s needs and is pitching its young operating system as the best way of accessing that web. In a market where consumers are increasingly connected, increasingly mobile, and spreading their computing out across an increasing number of devices, Chrome OS serves as an instant-on hub for accessing the media and services users are already invested in. It removes as many barriers as possible from the user and the web.
Google’s strategy is different from both Microsoft’s and Apple’s, both of whom earn the bulk of their profits from attracting consumers to their products and software. Google continues to make the majority of its money from targeted online ads, and it stands to gain most from the continued growth and adoption of the internet. With Chrome OS, Google is simply helping to speed things up.