Apple Faces Real Competition, and It's Not Microsoft

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- While Steve Ballmer feebly attempts to justify years of mismanagement at Microsoft ( MSFT), Google ( GOOG) continues to execute its not-so-sneaky end-around that could ultimately force Ballmer out of a job and finally provide competition for Tim Cook at Apple ( AAPL).

Google introduced Chromebook Pixel on Thursday. In and of itself, that's not a big deal. This device will not change the game. It will not stop very many, if any, MacBook purchases from happening, though it, along with Google's less expensive line of laptops, will eventually gain traction against PCs, particularly ultrabooks.

Matt Baxter-Reynolds wrote an interesting article for ZDNet where he basically argues that Google released what he considers flawed products -- the $1,299 and $1,449 Pixels -- just to get people talking about Chromebooks. Reynolds claims Google has already seen success with this odd strategy because of what he perceives as an ubiquitous buzz generated by the Chromebook Pixel's release.

Clarification: Tech geeks and their sympathizers are talking about Chromebooks. As for the rest of the population, they either do not know or can faintly recall that they even exist. If Google wanted to pique the masses' interests, it could have used its firepower to do something less convoluted and more creative than purposely producing something that's not very good.

TheStreet contributor Anton Wahlman thinks the Pixel is another piece of the puzzle that will put Microsoft and Apple out of business. He makes the market share argument, predicting the same type of growth over a five-year period for Chromebooks as we saw with Android-based smartphones.

As usual, what will happen likely situates somewhere closer to the middle.

What Google is doing makes sense. It's creating the type of hardware and software/services ecosystem Ballmer was never able to and will never be able to create with Windows. And it has the opportunity to create a better ecosystem than Apple's. There's no doubt that Google has done a better job positioning its seamless productivity/services/social/entertainment suite than Apple has. And now -- with its hardware strategy becoming clearer -- Google is on the verge of putting it all together.

Microsoft doesn't need help dying; it will kick off just fine on its own. Google will merely give it an additional push.

As it stands, Apple has no meaningful competition, but it needs some. And Google looks ready to provide it across spaces.

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.
Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes.

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