Leaked Chromebook video raises questions beginning with: Is it real?

  • (Network World)
  • 07 February, 2013 23:16

The leak of what looks like an impressive, high-concept version of a Chromebook to the Internet at large has generated a lot of buzz, but there's plenty of debate over almost every aspect of it, including whether it's real or not.

The video, which was leaked Wednesday in a Google Plus post -- by hackers, according to its producer -- showcases the Chromebook Pixel and claims it is a product of Google's own in-house design. The Pixel, ostensibly, features a touch-sensitive screen with a resolution of 2560x1700.

The possibilities are interesting, to be sure -- but Computerworld blogger JR Raphael points out that there's a great deal about the leak that casts doubt on its veracity.

For one thing, Raphael says, it seems unlikely that marketing firm Slinky.me -- the ostensible source of the video -- would be hired by Google, given that its website is full of broken English.

Additionally, he notes, CEO Victor Koch appears to have behaved rather strangely in the wake of the incident -- seemingly going out of his way to publicize it.

If the video is real, though, this would be a technical coup for Google, and one that would be certain to make a big splash in the laptop market. However, there are a number of reasons the concept could easily stay on the drawing board.

[ MORE GOOGLE: Another new release date for Galaxy S 4, but is Samsung battening down the hatches? ]

IDC analyst Bob O'Donnell tells Network World that very few consumers have bought a Chromebook at all, and that making a high-end variant could prove counterproductive.

"The people who bought it, bought it as a cheap notebook. High-resolution touch is not going to be cheap," says O'Donnell. "While [the Pixel] is interesting technologically, from a real market-acceptance perspective ... I think it would be a very tough sell."

Forrester analyst Frank Gillett says that Google attempting to take the Chromebook concept up-market isn't the most far-fetched idea out there. Essentially, what a hypothetical Pixel would do -- and what Microsoft's Surface tablet has already done -- is test the waters on a more Apple-like business model, where the company is more closely involved in the hardware end of the product.

"These rumors -- if they're true, we don't know -- they're a sign that Google is ... thinking about the role they want to play in PCs and not just mobile devices -- whether Chrome OS stays as sort of an interesting little aberration, or whether it turns into something pretty interesting," he says.

Despite its questionable provenance, the video has nonetheless provoked widespread speculation about Google's future hardware plans, and what role the Chromebook is to play in them.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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