What matters is not whether it sells;
it's what happens next for Chrome OS.

I see all these articles and posts calling the $1,299 Chromebook Pixel a "pricey boondoggle" (+TechCrunch), pitching it squarely against the Surface Pro or MacBook Pro, speculating whether it can "upend" Windows (+ZDNet), suggesting it's competing against the MacBook Air (+MacRumors)... that it's too expensive, too early, or both. But they're all missing the point.

The Pixel is really just an experiment, but one that is crucial for Chrome OS. It may not sell well. Hey, it probably won't. And the Chrome team may not care how many it sells after all. What they will watch closely is what happens next, specifically, the Web Store. In a way, it reminds me of what the Nexus One did for Android.

Consider the 2 biggest complaints you've heard about Chromebooks over the past few years:

1- it uses cheap hardware, and
2- it lacks powerful apps.

Hence, critics have called it just a glorified browser. To them, the Pixel probably doesn't make sense either. I bet most reviews will conclude it's too expensive or the hardware is premature. But as we've seen repeated in the blog post and video, the Pixel is really "for what's next".

What today's announcement shows is that Google has chosen to address hardware first; doing so on its own (not relying on Samsung, Acer, HP or Lenovo) and doing so boldly. No longer are Chromebooks synonymous with budget hardware; they can be cutting edge; specs are no longer a sore point.

Now that hardware is out of the way, it's clear what the next battle is for Chrome OS: cutting-edge applications. The Chrome team has known this for a while; Sundar Pichai certainly knows this today. It's the missing piece they need. It's what consumers have said are keeping them from adopting Chrome OS or switching completely from Windows or Mac. Users need powerful productivity apps and games. The Web Store has to get better. The groundwork has been laid all these years, but Google needs its developers to make the rest happen. Developers also needed a Chromebook they could get excited about. That's the Pixel.

In the next few months, you'll see Google doing its best to get the Pixel in the hands - especially minds - of as many developers as possible. The Pixel will probably be given away at Google I/O next May. Meanwhile, the Chrome team will continue to push development until the web is all users really need - reducing hardware dependencies, bringing in more pieces of Android (notifications), and making Google Now a central part of the experience.

When apps become powerful enough, Chromebooks will finally be more than a glorified browser in the eye of the mainstream consumer. And that is the gamble Google made today.

[My opinion only]
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