Google enjoys an interesting position in the electronics market. They produce what is high quality web services, and decent software, and combine it with mostly low end hardware. Android, for example, is the world’s number one smartphone operating system, albeit one that runs mostly on commodity, low end hardware (people will point to the Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC One X+ Turbo ultra edition as exceptions, but they simply prove the rule). The volume is low end.
Meanwhile, they produce the finest web mail client, the best online search experience, the best voice search experience, the best mapping product and so on. There is a dichotomy, a conflict.
The Chromebook Pixel seems to be a clear reaction to this. This is a serious piece of hardware. It has a fantastic, some would say best, screen, great keyboard, great trackpad and a sleek industrial design. This is a device meant to change the perception of the sort of devices that run Google software and services from the £250 Chromebooks and free on contract Android phones to the high end and business appropriate (you’d be surprise at the level of “look at me” you get in high level meetings when working in the tech sector when it comes to the devices people use. If you didn’t have an iPhone 5 on release day, you might as well have been using aBlackBerry).
To quote David Pierce at The Verge:
Everyone should want a Chromebook Pixel — I certainly do. But almost no one should buy one.
And that is exactly the point and purpose of this device, to change perceptions, not to break sales records.