Google’s Chromebook hardware has been pretty straightforward since the inception of the Chrome OS. With their first entry into the fold with the Chromebook Pixel followed by the 2015 version of that device, the Pixelbook, and finally the Pixel Slate, Google hasn’t veered too far from their original plan with their in-house Chromebooks. Premium builds and premium price tags have dominated this landscape and for many, that has meant a decision to pass on the often-great hardware on offer by Google.
But, what if there was a shift inside Google when it comes to building Chromebooks? What if, instead of top-of-the-line, high-end, high price Chromebooks we finally saw Google choose to aim for the mid-range instead. After all, many Chromebooks live in the $400-$600 range and make for great computing experiences. The ASUS Chromebook C434 I’m typing this on is a fantastic example of premium build, blazing speed, great experience, and a sub-$600 price tag.
What if, after the Pixel 3a presumably begins actually moving Pixel devices off shelves (the Pixel 3 and 3 XL have not sold well at all) Google looks at the numbers and considers building a quality, affordable Chromebook that proudly carries the #madebyGoogle bloodline.
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Go with me on this for a second and it isn’t tough to imagine a Pixelbook or Pixel Slate type of device with a few hardware corners cut here and there that delivers the same quality Google experience but doesn’t carry the typical #madebyGoogle price. Up to this point, the phones have gone through 3 years of iteration and no price drops. With the introduction of the Pixel 3a and 3a XL, however, Google has made a device that drops a few hardware features but doesn’t sacrifice the overall user experience.
After using the Pixel 3 XL since launch and switching to the Pixel 3a XL for a few weeks, I can attest to the fact that Google has completely accomplished the feat of delivering a #madebyGoogle experience at nearly half the price.
Now, what if they will do that for Chrome OS? It is hard to imagine a scenario where that would fail, honestly. I know there are other manufacturers in that $400-$600 space, but I think Google could enter there and win as well. I also think they could deliver a benchmark for others to aim for, too. If an overall cohesive experience like what you get on the Pixelbook could be had for $500, there would be a definite ripple effect on the industry as a whole.
Don’t get me wrong: I love many of the Chromebooks in this price bracket. I genuinely enjoy using the ASUS C434, Lenovo Yoga C630 and the HP Chromebook x360, but the there’s just something about using the device that Google has built from the ground up for Chrome OS. It feels similar to the difference in using a Pixel phone versus basically anything else. It is hard to put into words, but there’s something great about it.
And, I want that for Chrome OS. I want the general user base to get to experience a #madebyGoogle Chromebook without spending $1000. I would love to see Google embrace the same focus and shift we’re seeing for Pixel phones and apply it to Chromebooks. If that happens and if we finally see a device #madebyGoogle for a reasonable price, I think it could be a massive shift for the consumer Chromebook market .
Will it happen? It’s hard to say. Would it be amazing? Absolutely. Here’s hoping.