OPINION: Google hasn’t launched its personal Chromebook for the reason that launch of the Pixelbook Return in 2019. That’s very unusual given it’s the creator of ChromeOS, the working system that powers the low-cost laptops.
That’s to not say there’s a scarcity of Chromebooks available on the market, with the likes of Acer, Asus, Lenovo and HP launching a number of fashions annually. However as a consequence of a Chromebook’s reasonably priced nature, there’s arguably a dearth of innovation – they both get previous options trickling down from Home windows machines, or nothing in any respect.
Google has seemingly tried to treatment the problem by launching its Chromebook Plus initiative, which provides a Chromebook a particular badge after they meet Google’s minimal spec. However it will most likely solely make Intel Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 3 processors extra common slightly than incentivising Chromebook-makers to attempt one thing new. If Google needs the Chromebook market to proceed to develop, it’s going to wish one thing extra drastic.
One resolution is hiding in plain sight: a Google-made processor. This week Google launched each the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Professional, each of which will likely be powered by the brand new Google Tensor G3 processor. Again in 2019, Google determined to start out creating its personal smartphone chips to have extra management over the event of its Pixel telephones, whereas additionally pushing exhausting into AI to distinguish Pixel telephones from different Android smartphones.
I’d argue that this has been a massively profitable transfer. Google’s improvements with the AI engine has allowed Pixel telephones to develop into aggressive (even with the iPhone) for images, whereas it’s additionally enabled new options similar to Magic Eraser and Finest Take that enable the typical particular person to make Photoshop-grade tweaks to snaps.
Apple and Samsung stay the dominant forces, however Google was the quickest rising smartphone model in North America throughout Q1 2023. Given the extent of success that the Tensor processors have helped the Pixel telephones to attain, I can’t assist however marvel why Google received’t make the identical transfer for the Chromebook.
The Tensor chip appears to be an ideal match for the Chromebook. It’s not recognized for top efficiency, however that isn’t a problem for these reasonably priced laptops. As a substitute, Tensor processors concentrate on AI efficiency, and this might be precisely what Chromebooks must mount a severe problem on their Home windows rivals.
Home windows-powered laptops have began to dabble with AI. The Floor Professional 9 and Acer Swift Edge 16 have a devoted NPU of their chip, permitting them to utilize AI-powered options similar to Home windows Studio Results throughout video calls, permitting you to simply blur your background, minimise background sound and preserve your head framed. They’re actually spectacular, however hardly the game-changing options on the identical degree as Magic Eraser on Pixel telephones.
Google is in a incredible place to leapfrog its rivals and develop into the chief in AI efficiency for laptops. It’s already enabling Pixel customers to make straightforward tweaks to pictures and movies, and I’d love that very same performance to return to Chromebooks. There’s additionally an enormous alternative for Google to enhance its personal apps similar to Gmail, Google Docs and YouTube, with AI serving to to spice up productiveness and make easy duties a lot simpler for the typical particular person.
Tensor would probably convey extra benefits than AI efficiency too. Since Tensor is constructed on Arm as a substitute of Intel x86, it can probably provide superior battery effectivity than Intel Core and AMD Ryzen processors. That’s an enormous win for me, as I typically prioritise battery life over efficiency when selecting out a laptop computer for workplace work.
Google is in a novel place to develop its personal chip for a Chromebook too. When launching a totally new processor vary, one of many greatest obstacles is to get it working in concord with the working system – Arm chips nonetheless don’t play good with Home windows, for instance. However with Google already creating ChromeOS, it shouldn’t be an issue to get Tensor working on a Chromebook.
If Google had been to launch a Pixelbook with a Tensor chip, I genuinely consider it might have the same impact on the laptop computer market because the M1-powered MacBook Air. It might probably develop into the gold commonplace for Chromebooks and eventually provide an incentive, moreover a cheaper price level, to select a Chromebook over a MacBook or Home windows machine.
Such a transfer makes a lot sense that it might be foolish for Google to overlook this chance. However then once more, this is similar firm that canned Google Stadia after simply three years…
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