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'People will give up a MacBook Air for this': Google challenges Apple with high-end laptop

Date

Glenn Chapman

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An attendee tries out the new Google Chromebook Pixel laptop during a launch event in San Francisco.

An attendee tries out the new Google Chromebook Pixel laptop during a launch event in San Francisco. Photo: Bloomberg

Google on Thursday unveiled a touchscreen notebook computer designed for high-end users, throwing down a gauntlet for Apple and its MacBooks.

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 $US1299 ($A1267).

The Chromebook Pixel.

The Chromebook Pixel. Photo: AFP

"People will give up a MacBook Air for this," Google Chrome senior vice president Sundar Pichai said while showing off the premium end of what, to now, were low-priced notebook computers that serve as windows to internet-based services.

No Australian launch date has been announced. Google Australia said the tech giant hoped to bring the Pixel "to more users over time".

"We are very committed to reaching users in more countries."

A Pixel model featuring built-in connectivity to the US Verizon mobile internet service will hit the market in April at a price of $US1449, according to Google.

The version available Thursday allowed connections to the internet 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 hoped people look beyond comparing Pixel prices with competitors such as MacBooks or laptops built on Windows 8 software to see the value the touchscreen and the massive terabyte of Google Drive online data storage included.

"It is clear that touch is here to stay and that it is the future," Pichai said. "I am sure every laptop will have touch in the future."

He described the Pixel screen resolution as superior to that on any laptop being shipped today, including Apple's premium MacBook models.

Google also set out to remedy a complaint by Chrome notebook users frustrated when trying to work with documents or spreadsheets made with Microsoft's widely used Word or Excel software.

Within three months, Google will release Quickoffice software for handling those types of files, according to Pichai.

The announcement adds a new dimension to the rivalry between the two tech giants, which are in a fierce battle over smartphones and tablets.

"This is for power users we expect to live completely in the cloud," Pichai said. "The Pixel is about pushing the state of the art."

Google custom built Pixel and is producing it with the help of electronics manufacturers in Taiwan.

Google intended to make a profit on Pixel sales, but said the main intents were to more deeply mesh the California-based internet giant's money-generating products and services into people's lives.

Pixels were also intended to set an example for other device makers to follow, according to Pichai.

"Chrome notebooks bring the best of Google together; search, maps, Gmail, and more just a click away," Pichai said. "And since we are obsessed with speed, this Chromebook is screamingly fast."

Google was working with third-party application developers to tailor Pixel programs.

"The goal is to get the Pixel in the hands of all our early adopters as well as developers," Pichai said. "We think our ecosystem will respond well."

Google introduced the first Chromebook in mid-2010 in a challenge to Windows operating software at the heart of Microsoft's empire.

The array of Chromebook makers has grown to include Acer, Lenovo, Samsung and Hewlett-Packard, with previous models offered at bargain prices when compared to high-end laptops.

When Chromebooks were first introduced, then Google chief executive Eric Schmidt predicted that "cloud computing will define computing as we all know it" and that the offering was a viable third option to computers built on Apple and Windows platforms.

Shifting operating software to banks of servers on the internet means that Google tends to matters such as updating programs and fending off hackers and malicious software.

Advantages include quick start-ups from disk-drive free machines and essentially being able to dive into one's desktop data from anywhere on the internet.

People can also share their computers, with the operating system preventing snooping on one another.

Google remains devoted to its Android software for powering tablets and smartphones, following two paths when it comes to internet-synched hardware, according to Pichai.

"So far, we have been in a world that is pretty straight forward: Chromebook laptops and Android tablets," Pichai said. "Once you start building a touch laptop, the lines blur but we are doing both."

AFP and Fairfax Media

122 comments

  • Remember Windows, how quaint it's blue screens, freezing, viruses and endless updates were. Thank God Apple and now Google have well and truly resigned it to the history books.

    Commenter
    FrankM
    Date and time
    February 22, 2013, 9:21AM
    • Windows still dominates businesses.

      Commenter
      tango8
      Date and time
      February 22, 2013, 9:30AM
    • Yea, shows how quaint you are. Let me guess, you haven't used one since Windows XP? @Google You were joking about that, weren't you...? Sundar...?

      Commenter
      hammburger
      Date and time
      February 22, 2013, 9:30AM
    • Soon you will find out that all OS are the same. Windows was targeted by the hacker etc as they were the only popular ones.

      Commenter
      sam
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      February 22, 2013, 9:31AM
    • Really? You seriously believe that? I defy you to walk into any business and see what the desktop OS of choice is. In fact, I would recommend walking into most households and seeing what OS is running on the home computers and by a massive margin you will find Windows. Don't confuse smartphone OS with desktops/laptops. The day where Apple and Google take over the market share on computers OS isn't even close to arriivng.

      Commenter
      DeltaV
      Date and time
      February 22, 2013, 9:33AM
    • My question is: How does the word "ecosystem" get into a story about developments in new computers and technology? These IT geeks delude themselves in the extreme, it seems. Some might say typical american corporate misuse and abuse of language and, or of their self-importance (Apple at thet top of "tree" here), suggesting that somehow what they do is akin to natural phenomena and their intricate complexities.

      Commenter
      OMG
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      February 22, 2013, 10:03AM
    • @FrankM My Windows7 laptop hasn't crashed once in two years, updates itself without any help from me and has never been infected with a virus or malware. Your comment is silly.

      Commenter
      Jessica
      Location
      Mosman
      Date and time
      February 22, 2013, 10:12AM
    • Looks just like the Macbook Pro I'm working on as we speak!

      Commenter
      Jim
      Date and time
      February 22, 2013, 10:27AM
    • Google just wants to be Microsoft. And, Apple ... well ... is just Apple.

      Commenter
      Griffo
      Date and time
      February 22, 2013, 10:40AM
    • @DeltaV

      The PC era is gone. It will only remain in business untill Offoce is released on iOS and Andriod platforms. Thinner and lighter devices for consumers will rule - they already do. More people have smart phones and tablets than PC's globally because they are cheaper and quicker to complete specific tasks - including word processing. The basic consumer does not want programtic level OS's they want a platform that is easy to use and does what they want to do through its simple apps.

      Commenter
      Griffo
      Date and time
      February 22, 2013, 10:49AM

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