We've yet to see it happen. The first Chromebook Pixel earned generally strong reviews but never took off in terms of sales. Even today, as low-end Chromebooks top the charts at Amazon.com, the LTE-enabled Pixel languishes as the 7,746th best seller in the e-tailer's Computers and Accessories store.
Yet I don't think Google is done with this end of the market; I'm expecting a new Pixel to be among the lineup at this week's Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco. Specifically, I'm looking for a machine with these four attributes.
1. Free access to Google Apps for Business. This ought to be a no-brainer. In March, Google announced plans to pay $15 for each new user brought in by an existing customer. Yet it needn't be this complicated in hawking a new Pixel. Simply offer a free limited-duration license to Google Apps for Business for every new buyer.
2. Include as many or more ports as other laptops. Even if the Pixel is optimized for the cloud, buying one shouldn't feel like a compromise. Instead, take a lesson from Microsoft and build a machine that's at least on par with more expensive competitive offerings.
3. Crazy features. A beautiful touchscreen display made the first Pixel stand out. So, go crazy. Try wireless charging or an experimental MU-MIMO chip for hyperfast Wi-Fi. Just don't make users depend on these add-ons.
4. A ridiculous amount of RAM and cloud storage. When Google first introduced Gmail, it came with 1GB of storage space. Competitors never recovered and today Gmail is one of the world's largest online email systems. Do the same with the Pixel. Ship it with 32 or even 64 GB of onboard RAM instead of the current 4-8 GB standard, and throw in at least 3 terabytes of online storage for photos, documents, etc.
The business case for a business-class Chromebook
IDC predicts that spending on cloud computing software, services, and technology are on pace to pass more than $100 billion this year, up 25%. That's a huge positive for Google because the Pixel -- and, frankly, every other Chromebook -- isn't just a laptop. Rather, it's an optimized gateway to the cloud services that are redefining our computing experience.
Consider Dropbox, the cloud file syncing service that commands a $10 billion pre-IPO valuation. There's also salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM), arguably the biggest name in online social collaboration software, a market that's expected to top $8 billion by 2018. With so much work performed in the cloud it makes sense to having a machine that's designed to deftly handle the e-services that help users get work done.
A new Pixel could be that kind of machine. Will we see it at this week's Google I/O? Why or why not? Leave your take in the space below.