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TheStreet Open House

Google's $199 Laptop for a Blue Christmas

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- TheStreet contributor Anton Wahlman wrote an article -- Google Ups The Ante: $199 Laptop -- on another low-priced piece of Google (GOOG) hardware before anybody else even sniffed it coming.

This comes after Wahlman's coverage of Google's $249 laptop.

For his work, I praise him.

Beyond that, I can't subscribe to the notion that there's anything even remotely encouraging about Google's approach.

In fact, the whole WalMartization of tech is bad for the space.

For as crazy as Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer might be, you've got to at least credit the guy for not selling out and undercutting Apple (AAPL) on price.

Wahlman gleefully lists Google's alleged bargains: A $349 smartphone that's $300 less than an iPhone; the $149 Nexus 7 tablet counters the $329 iPad mini; the 10-inch model is $100 cheaper than iPad 4; and Google's new Samsung and Acer Chromebook builds come in 60% to 80% less expensive than most new Windows 8 laptops and Apple Macbooks.

If this is what tech has come to the space is in worse shape than I thought.

When it became clear Apple was going to do iPad mini, I feared a $199 product. At least Tim Cook stayed somewhat true to Steve Jobs-form by building a high-quality tablet at a premium price.

If Apple jumped into the low-priced gutter with Google and Amazon.com (AMZN), it would have been akin to saying we give up.

There's this flawed notion that if a product is more affordable, its maker accomplished some incredible feat.

From a business perspective, this is not a case of Amazon breaking even on mediocre hardware to drive e-commerce sales. Instead, it's Google "competing" against Apple the only way it can -- on price.

This is Google!

You mean to tell me there's not enough talent in the building, available for hire or at Motorola to put together top-of-the-line laptops -- even if in conjunction with Samsung and Acer -- that generate profits, respectable margins and a top-notch user experience?

All Google can do is give us a glorified Web surfer and market it as a spare computer or something that gets knocked around in a hotel lobby?

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