Google battles Apple with high-end laptop
By Glenn Chapman ,AFPSAN FRANCISCO -- Google unveiled a touch-screen notebook computer Thursday designed for high-end users, throwing down the gauntlet to Apple and its MacBooks.
February 23, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
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 US$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 U.S. market in April at a price of US$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 touch-screen 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.
Analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group branded the Pixel move “a train wreck,” arguing that notebook computers above US$600 have historically not sold well and that Apple even sells a slick MacBook Air model for US$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.”