Can Google and Microsoft Really Be Competitive in the PC Industry?

When you hear the name, “Microsoft,” the first words that come to mind are “Excel,” or “Powerpoint.” When you think of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), you think search engine. One term that the general public definitely doesn’t connect to either of these companies is “laptop,” but that may change in the near future.

Each of these tech giants has strayed from its modus operandi by placing a heavy emphasis on their laptop brands with Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Surface and Google’s Chromebook and the new Chromebook Pixel. Their respective forays into personal computers is audacious, to say the least. Neither had ever seemed concerned with producing a personal computer, nor making all the hardware and software (also known as “vertically integrated”) themselves.

But that is exactly what they’ve done with their newest laptop models. Microsoft announced that they will expand on their Surface lineup, and Google followed up their extremely cheap Chromebook with the higher functioning (and more expensive) Chromebook Pixel, joining Apple as the only vertically integrated PC makers in the industry.

Pathway To Success

Google and Microsoft entered the PC market with differing approaches. Microsoft, right now, has a fully functioning hybrid between a laptop and a tablet. The Surface Pro comes installed with Windows 8 and has gotten extremely high reviews for fitting everything you want from a laptop, into a 10-inch tablet. The Surface Pro is priced at $899, making it cheaper than Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) Macbook Air.

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Google, meanwhile, first introduced their Chromebook in 2011, and enlisted laptop makers such as Acer and Samsung to help make the Chromebook, which runs on Internet-based apps rather than apps held on the computer itself, higher functioning and cheaper. Right now you can buy a Chromebook for as low as $200, a pittance compared to other laptops and a price that should entice customers to try out the Google Chrome Operating System that both the Chromebook and Chromebook Pixel run on.

Ideally Google would like users to fall in love with the Chromebook in large part because of the Chrome OS, so that when customers decide to buy a more expensive laptop, they turn to the Chromebook Pixel. The Pixel, priced at $1299, didn’t receive the same rave reviews as the Surface Pro, but its also Google’s first attempt at a high end laptop. Future generations of the Pixel will undoubtedly be more user friendly, and in the meantime consumers can save their money and work with the Chromebook.

Although Microsoft has a better, more competitively priced high-end laptop, Google has the foundation set with the Chromebook (which has a large school-age user base) to build upon until the Pixel becomes a more competitive, less expensive product.

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