An Open Letter to Google: Why does the Pixelbook exist?

Image From: PCWorld

Dear Google,

I love Chrome OS. I really do. It’s fast, does everything I want it to do, and is affordable. But it feels like you are forgetting just who the target audience of this Operating System is for: People like me, people who need nothing more than a Web Browser and the occasional Android App.

On October 4, 2017, you went ahead and released something that makes no sense: The Pixelbook. Now, that’s not to say the concept is bad, I want you to produce a nice and decent device running your own software. I’m still waiting for the Pixel Watch, after all.

There’s just one problem: It’s overpriced. I’m not talking about in terms of hardware, I’m talking in terms of software. What can a $1,000 Chromebook do that a $300 Chromebook can’t do? Open more tabs? If I’m going to spend that much money on a laptop, I would want one running Windows 10 or macOS High Sierra. Or, at least, a fully functional Linux Distro.

I know there’s the obvious example of Google Assistant… that’s not lost on me, the Assistant and Pixelbook Pen were the things that made me consider maybe getting this laptop. However, Windows has Cortana, and macOS has Siri. Am I really going to spend an extra $700 just for the Google Assistant and support for the Pixelbook Pen? Not even the pen itself, that’s an extra $100.

No. No, I won’t, especially knowing that Google Assistant will be coming to more Chromebooks in the future.

This just seriously shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what your own Operating System was made for: The average person, one who doesn’t need anything more than a web browser and a couple Android apps. Again, someone like myself.

I am actually okay with having an on-brand notebook with a stylish look costing a little more than the average Chromebook. I really am. Plenty of people are willing to spend hundreds more on a product that’s just as good as another just because of a brand. But it’s usually not a $700 upcharge on brand alone. Maybe $200-300, and that’s a steep upcharge for a laptop that was built for the sole purpose of browsing the web.

The fact of the matter is, a Chromebook does not need an Intel Core i5 processor. It just doesn’t. A Chromebook with a Core i5 or a Core i7 can do 90% of the same tasks as a Chromebook with an Intel Celeron N3060 processor. I would know. I’m using one right now, as I’m writing this.

Yes, I get the occasional hiccup, but overall it’s much faster than the $800 Windows 10 based laptop I got from my High School and used for 4 years. If that $800 Windows 10 laptop was an $800 Chrome OS laptop, it not only would have served me quite well, but it could work for more than a decade. And guess what? I used it, primarily, for the Browser: Google Chrome. In fact, the only programs I used were programs that could be replaced with web apps. Even the AZMerit Testing Program could be used on a Chromebook.

So my question to you, Google, is this: Who is the Pixelbook for? Who would benefit from it? Why does the Pixelbook exist?

Now, I hear you’re going to add support for Linux apps in the near future. I commend this move to allow people with Pixelbooks to take further advantage of their faster system, but this is something you should have done before releasing a $1,000 Chromebook. If this device was $400 or less, I would probably be using it right now, and benefiting from Google Assistant. Those who already got it as it is right now are not benefiting from the extra processor power at all.

You need to remember who Chrome OS is for. Your recent ad attacking Windows and macOS for their error message issues, a problem that was solved long ago by both parties, shows a fundamental misunderstanding of just what makes Chrome OS stand out. Yes, it’s true we get less error messages, but that’s because we don’t use the same applications. Yes, it’s true your system isn’t as prone to malware, but that’s because it doesn’t run executables. Yes, it’s true your system is much faster, but that’s because it’s literally just a Web Browser packaged into an Operating System.

Once again, 90% of what can be done on a Pixelbook can be done on my own Chromebook. The only exceptions include a feature that is coming to my notebook soon, and support for a $100 pen that I will not be getting, instead opting for an AmazonBasic Stylus which, while not as feature-filled as a Surface Pen, Apple Pencil, or Pixelbook Pen by any stretch of the imagination, serves my purpose of taking notes in school quite well.

The only thing I substantively benefit from with Android App support is Pokemon TCG Online, NES Emulation, and Microsoft OneNote. That’s it. That’s all I need. And that’s why I use a Chromebook.

I don’t need an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor for that.

Sincerely,

Marco Salin