We’re coming up on a full year since Google unveiled the Pixelbook to the world. Well, Google wasn’t actually the first to show off the new Chromebook if you remember: it was actually a huge pre-October leak led by Droid Life on September 19th of 2017. Regardless, we’re not far from marking the anniversary of the first Pixelbook and, if all things go to plan, we’ll hopefully be taking in all the new Pixelbook line has to offer in October at Google’s fall hardware event.
As excited as I am for that moment, I can’t help look back over the past 11 months and the impact the Pixelbook has had on the Chrome OS ecosystem. Out of the gate, sales were sluggish, reviewers were critical (mainly of the price), and I began to wonder if this amazing device would end up having the impact on the market I desperately wanted it to. To fully recall my sentiments of those early Pixelbook days, I actually went back to my review and the thoughts I had at the time.
Now, I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but the things I said about the Pixelbook a year ago are exactly what we’re seeing today. It took a bit longer to happen than I anticipated, but in the opening to that review, I made a few key statements that I’d actually forgotten all about:
For the entrenched Chromebook crowd, this is an answer to the lament for…a follow-up to the Chromebook Pixel with its high price tag and premium build.
It’s also an answer to the need for Chrome OS to have a halo device…to force other manufacturers to continue upping their game to meet the Pixelbook’s lofty status.
This device could be the first Chromebook general consumers actually interact with. This could be the first Chromebook that causes the general consumer to actually perk up and take notice and see what a Chromebook actually has to offer.
Coming To Fruition
Like I said before, when I made these comments 10 months ago, I really thought by the first of 2018 we’d see these shifts happening. After all, Google marketed the Pixelbook way more than any Chromebook that’s ever come before it. They didn’t go as far as I assumed they would, but there were plenty of experiences along the way that have put the Pixelbook in front of many more consumers than anything before it.
All that said, the early months of 2018 still felt a little barren for Pixelbook sales. I freely assumed my big hopes for this device’s popularity were simply overstated and that my hopefulness had gotten the best of me. As it turns out, my initial thoughts about why Google made the Pixelbook in the first place were pretty on-point, but they needed time to actually happen.
With a few sales here and there and perhaps some rising awareness, we’re seeing the healthiest sales of Pixelbooks across the board since launch. We’re Amazon affiliates, so we can get a decent guage on how products are moving, and I can tell you that a healthy number of Pixelbooks are being shipped from Amazon daily. The entrenched crowd of Chromebook users I talked about in the video likely already snagged a Pixelbook months ago, so those numbers aren’t hard-core Chromebook fans finally getting around to pulling the trigger.
These sales are highly likely to be to more general consumers who are starting to understand and appreciate the broad appeal of Chrome OS.
We’ve seen the effect the Pixelbook has on onlookers just here in our office. In the past few months, two employees have adopted the Pixelbook as their only computing device, making three total for our team of 15 that used to be 100% Mac OS. I routinely have people calling or messaging me who have never cared about learning about anything tech-related in the past few months wanting to learn more about Chromebooks and actually going to make purchases: and these are the types of people who simply wander into Best Buy and get whatever Windows device the sales rep points to.
And instead, they are buying a Chromebook.
These types of over-arching changes happen when marketing, product placement, and word of mouth finally start catching on. And Google’s vehicle to do this largely centered around the Pixelbook.
I think the most important factor is the Pixelbook as the halo device, though. As the clear and present front-runner for Chrome OS, the Pixelbook set a standard like no other Chromebook to date. It is gorgeous, fast, and extremely unique in its appearance.
Nothing looks like a Pixelbook.
By setting this gold standard, Google not only had the flagship device it needed to get Android Apps and Linux Apps delivered to users, it also had a device that was immensely intruiging to consumers and a lighthouse for manufacturers to aim for.
Think back just a few months ago. Other than the Pixelbook, where would you turn for a more premium Chromebook? The only real options that spring to mind are the nearly 2-year-old ASUS C302, Samsung Chromebook Pro (though some would argue about a premium status for that one), and the 3-year-old HP Chromebook 13 G1. Sure, I like many parts of all those devices, but they are getting on in age. The Pixelbook launched into a market with a glaring void: really nice Chromebooks were few and far between.
The response wasn’t immediate, but when you consider manufacturing cycles, the Pixelbook’s effect was pretty quick. In just a year’s time, the upper-tier Chromebook landscape is shifting mightily.
Consider that we now have the HP Chromebook x2, The Acer Spin 13, The Lenovo Yoga Chromebook, and Dell’s Inspiron Chromebook 14 all coming before the holiday season. That’s to say nothing of an ASUS C302 refresh we fully expect soon and likely a new Samsung Chromebook Pro as well.
It seems that, all the sudden, all the major laptop OEMs want a piece of the Chromebook pie.
How did we get here so quickly? My answer: The Pixelbook.
By increasing public awareness, driving manufacturers to elevate their product quality, and providing a marketable, desireable device, Google looks to have accomplished the end goal with the Pixelbook. Is it outselling Macbooks or are you going to see multiple users in your local coffee shop using a Pixelbook? Probably not, but that really isn’t the point, is it?
Google succeeded by moving the market forward in a very meaningful way in 2018. As we watch Pixelbooks continue selling left and right, I’m reminded that Google isn’t trying to own or win the Pixelbook space. Much like Microsoft has done with the Surface line of products, Google is setting a new, enviable standard that benefits both consumers and manufacturers alike. In just a year, the Pixelbook has gone from head-shaker to market shifter. If the recent Chromebook announcements by Acer, Dell, and Lenovo aren’t enough to convince you of that, just wait around a bit.
I think we’re in for more shifting and a wildly different Chromebook landscape to close out 2018. The next few months are going to be a wild ride.