GOOG) laptop next to the 11.6 inch Apple MacBook Air,the army of Apple sales staff jumped on me in a collective heartattack. Samsung made a copy of the MacBook Air? How much is it --$1,000 or $1,500? When I told them $249, or 75% less than theirMacBook Air's starting price, their faces became whiter than aheadache pill. Apple had better pray that its superior marketing machine stayssuperior to Google's non-existent marketing machine. If Google everopened 400 stores selling a $249 laptop that in many ways looks like acopy of the MacBook Air, it would be a tougher time for Apple.Google's problem is that consumer awareness of its PCs is closer to 0%than 1%. Apple's consumer awareness is closer to 100% than 99%.
Mind you, Google's PCs have already been selling for well over ayear, even though the price was $300-$550. It's been a tree fallingin the forest. Great product, almost non-existent marketing. ZeroGoogle stores. Do the experiment for yourself: Flip open the $249 Google/Samsunglaptop and put it next to the $999 (and up) 11.6 inch MacBook Air.See any difference? I see one. The Samsung logo. What about the software? I can hear the hate mail in my mailbox already. "But the $249 Googlelaptop isn't a real computer. It doesn't run any programs. It's justa browser." Those arguments are similar to: "But that diesel car doesn't have anyspark plugs. It doesn't require service every 5,000 miles." Sorry,but those are not so much objections as they are reasons to change. Here is the reality: Many people do only the following things on their PCs: 1. Gmail. 2. Google Docs/Drive. 3. Google Calendar. 4. General web surfing and related web apps. That's it. I don't know how many people in the world use advancedprograms such as Adobe Photoshop. Seven million? Well, there are sevenbillion people in the world. Million versus billion. Let Microsoft ( MSFT) and Apple battle it out for those 0.1% of the world's population,then, and let Google sell its $249 laptop to the other 99.9%. Microsoft Office? So far, after 22 months of use, I have found thatGoogle Docs (and Google Drive) do everything I used to do in MicrosoftOffice. Such as typing this article. Tell me again why I needMicrosoft Office? Honestly, there is only one thing I miss from Microsoft Office, andthat is Outlook. This program had a superior address book -- muchbetter than anything from Google and Apple. Sadly, Microsoft itselfhas abolished Outlook from its new Windows RT operating system. Youcannot load the only program that was uniquely attractive to Microsoft-- Outlook -- onto Microsoft's new operating system, Windows RT. Whowas the genius who thought of that? There is no doubt that both Apple and Microsoft have recentlyintroduced software to narrow their competitive disadvantage withGoogle in terms of productivity tools. MS Office as well as Apple'sequivalent are now available in a cloud context on their own mobiledevices.
However, they are either relatively poorly implemented forthose who use other mobile devices, or unavailable on otherdevices at all. Want to use iCloud on your Android or Windows device? Can't do it. Google Docs has the three following advantages against Apple and Microsoft: 1. It is easier/faster to use. 2. It is available on more (hardware) devices from competitors, e.g.,Google Drive is an app on iPhone and iPad. 3. It can be had optimized in a $249 laptop, at least 50% cheaperthan Microsoft and 75% cheaper than Apple. Bottom line: The Apple Store 2.0 will dig where Apple's ground issoft: Superior marketing, superior image, high-end quality. There aretoo few Microsoft stores, although the few ones in existence areexcellent -- and Google still thinks it doesn't need stores at all. Google is making a mistake here. It's got products ideal for the99.9% of the world's seven billion people, but almost nobody have evenheard of Google's $249 laptop. Apple has expensive high-end productssurrounded by superior marketing in superior stores. And Microsoft? Well, "Daddy, what was Microsoft?" At the time of publication the author had positions in AAPL, GOOG and MSFT. Follow @antonwahlman This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.