[Verge] Google canceled its next Pixelbook and shut down the team building it

Maiden Voyage

Gold™ Member

Google has canceled the next version of its Pixelbook laptop and dissolved the team responsible for building it. The device was far along in development and expected to debut next year, according to a person familiar with the matter, but the project was cut as part of recent cost-cutting measures inside of Google. Members of the team have been transferred elsewhere inside the company.

As recently as a few months ago, Google was planning to keep the Pixelbook going. Ahead of its annual I/O developer conference, Google hardware chief Rick Osterloh told The Verge that “we are going to do Pixelbooks in the future.” But he also acknowledged that the Chromebook market has changed since 2017 when the original (and best) Pixelbook launched. “What’s nice about the category is that it has matured,” Osterloh said. “You can expect them to last a long time.” One way Google might be thinking about the ChromeOS market is that it simply doesn’t need Google the way it once did.

Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, has been saying for months that he intends to slow down hiring and cut some projects across the company. “In some cases, that means consolidating where investments overlap and streamlining processes,” he wrote in a July memo. “In other cases, that means pausing development and re-deploying resources to higher priority areas.” The Pixelbook team and the Pixelbook itself were casualties of that consolidation and redeployment.

“Google doesn’t share future product plans or personnel information; however, we are committed to building and supporting a portfolio of Google products that are innovative and helpful for our users,” Laura Breen, a communications manager at Google, told The Verge. “In regards to our people, in times where we do shift priorities we work to transition team members across devices and services.”

As recently as a few months ago, Google was planning to keep the Pixelbook going

Google’s hardware strategy, particularly with the Pixel devices, has been both to make good products and to try and show other manufacturers how to do the same. It began investing in Pixel phones as a way to show off what Google’s take on Android could look like. More recently, the company is reengaged in making smartwatches, with the Pixel Watch to come in a few weeks, and in building an Android tablet due to ship next year. Both of those latter devices exist in categories where most Android devices have failed. Google is trying to convince developers, manufacturers, and customers that they can be good.

In a similar way, Google spent nearly a decade trying to prove to the world that a high-end Chromebook was a good idea. With the first Chromebook Pixel in 2013, it went deliberately over the top, putting ChromeOS — an operating system Google’s then-CEO Eric Schmidt had said would be featured on “completely disposable” hardware — onto a gorgeous device with a $1,300 price tag. Google never meant for the Chromebook hardware to matter, but the hardware does matter, and so Google made the best hardware. Still, the Pixel and the later Pixelbook models were niche devices with high prices, and while Google doesn’t break out its Chromebook sales, it was clearly too expensive to make real noise in the broader laptop market.

In 2017, when Google launched the Pixelbook, the case for ChromeOS had changed somewhat. No longer was it just a beautiful, useful laptop — it was also a convertible, flipping device that could be used like a tablet. Google even built a stylus, called the Pixelbook Pen, to accompany the device. The Pixelbook was Google’s attempt to combat the iPad and the MacBook Air in a single product. It had Google Assistant built in, it could connect to a Pixel phone and use its data, and it could run Android apps. It was all of Google’s computing vision in a single body. (It also had one of the all-time great laptop keyboards.)

Since that device, Google has mostly failed to recapture what made the Pixelbook great. It continued to chase and Chrome OS-ize everything that looked like the future of computing: first, there was the disastrous Pixel Slate, a tablet with an attachable keyboard that looked an awful lot like the Microsoft Surface. Then there was the Pixelbook Go, a smaller and slightly cheaper version of the Pixelbook that, by the time it launched in 2019, just couldn’t keep up with the competition. “Comparable Chromebooks cost at least a hundred bucks less for similar features,” The Verge’s Dieter Bohn wrote in his review of the device. “So with the Pixelbook Go, what are you paying for?”

By 2019, a strange thing had happened: Chromebooks were good! Acer, Asus, and others had begun to actually invest in non-disposable hardware for their ChromeOS devices. Lenovo had a Yoga Chromebook, and Dell and HP were starting to sell Chromebooks across a wide range of prices and specs. Chromebooks had gone from “the crappy but cheap option” to a genuine alternative to Windows. And most of those options were also substantially cheaper than any of Google’s Pixelbooks.

Chromebooks in general are hugely popular in education — and not so popular elsewhere​

The devices have been particularly successful in education, but as Brian Lynch, an analyst at research firm Canalys, said last year, “Chromebooks are well and truly a mainstream computing product now.” There are good Chromebooks available in all forms: you can buy Chromebooks that flip, Chromebooks that fold, Chromebooks that detach, Chromebooks with ThinkPad-style trackpoints. Even the high-end market has become competitive, with devices like the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 and the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 bringing some of Google’s design prowess to the space.

In the early days of the pandemic, as students needed to attend school from home, Chromebooks boomed. ChromeOS devices outsold Apple’s Macs for the first time, according to data from analysis firm IDC. And Canalys said that Chromebooks grew 275 percent between the first quarter of 2020 and the same period in 2021. But as the PC market has slowed down after a huge early pandemic boost, ChromeOS has fallen more than most: research firm Gartner predicted Chromebooks will be down a full 30 percent in 2022.

Meanwhile, Google hasn’t shipped a new laptop of its own in almost three years, though the Pixelbook Go is still for sale in the company’s store. In recent months, some have speculated that Google’s Tensor chip might be a reason for the company to reinvest in the space, looking for ways to bring its AI prowess to ChromeOS and laptops — and to solve the Android compatibility problem once and for all.

Going forward, it’s clear the company is focusing where it believes the Android ecosystem needs it: smartwatches and tablets. It’s also possible that after years of trying to make luxurious, cutting-edge Chromebooks happen, the company has realized that schools and students are likely to keep being the best ChromeOS customers and that those customers will never pay Google’s prices.

To be fair, though, Google has a long history of giving up on projects before eventually deciding to try them again — smartwatches and even Google Glass all come to mind, and remember three years ago when Google said it was getting out of the tablet business to focus solely on laptops? — so Google may someday decide it needs to help juice the Chromebook market again. But for now, the ChromeOS market is strong, and Google’s no longer trying to move it forward.

"Going forward, it’s clear the company is focusing where it believes the Android ecosystem needs it: smartwatches and tablets."

 

AJUMP23

Member
My wife’s school every kid has a chrome book. So I am surprised their isn’t enough market share for these. I guess the NFL Surface is the future.
 

casnix

Member
They’ll eventually kill their new tablets too just like they did last time. Surprised the Pixel phones have lasted as long as they have. This coming from a long time Nexus/Pixel fan.
 

Maiden Voyage

Gold™ Member
They’ll eventually kill their new tablets too just like they did last time. Surprised the Pixel phones have lasted as long as they have. This coming from a long time Nexus/Pixel fan.
I bought the Nexus 9 shortly after launch. Biggest waste of money.
 

Vestal

Gold Member
With so many cheap ChromeBook alternatives, who was really the market for a "High end" chromebook?
 

GHG

Member
They’ll eventually kill their new tablets too just like they did last time. Surprised the Pixel phones have lasted as long as they have. This coming from a long time Nexus/Pixel fan.

They're probably next.

Google seem to be on a killing spree of late.
 

Chittagong

Gold Member
I think hardware was always a hedge for the eventuality that Samsung or Nokia would manage to do decent OSs. Now that that’s clearly not the case, and there is no risk of competition, why dabble in the low margin hw biz
 
From a management perspective I think the are correct in killing whatever is not giving returns. On the other hand, why the green light such poor products is unknown to me.
 

Fake

Member
The problem with Google are their ambition. As mention in the article, they do a great job with education, far than Microsoft, so they should keep that strategy instead of trying to grab high end consumers.

Educational Chromebooks are ideal for education, just pursuit AMD for more affordable components and stick with schools.
 

LordCBH

Member
I’ve always been impressed with the look of the pixelbooks, but holy shit I can’t justify that kind of cash for a fucking Chromebook.
 

Trunx81

Gold Member
What a bummer, wanted to buy one for Stadia.

Did Intel offer them an exclusive chip, which Google declined?
 

Smiggs

Member
I’ve always been impressed with the look of the pixelbooks, but holy shit I can’t justify that kind of cash for a fucking Chromebook.
And there in lies the problem. A Chromebook is supposed to be a cheap alternative to a laptop... why pay a premium for less features?
 

YCoCg

Member
It feels like Google has long forgot what the aim was with their hardware since they are far away from the Nexus days.
 

Cyberpunkd

Gold Member
Apple is automatically disqualified because it doesn't support side-loading. Their devices are unfunctional bricks.
99.9% do not ever need a side loaded program. You want to play around making splash boot screens or using fancy UI overlay that’s your business, but it is nowhere close to what people buy tablets for.
 

akimbo009

Gold Member
99.9% do not ever need a side loaded program. You want to play around making splash boot screens or using fancy UI overlay that’s your business, but it is nowhere close to what people buy tablets for.
Take what the corpo gives ya. How very "cyberpunkd".
 
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Tams

Member
The problem with Google are their ambition. As mention in the article, they do a great job with education, far than Microsoft, so they should keep that strategy instead of trying to grab high end consumers.

Educational Chromebooks are ideal for education, just pursuit AMD for more affordable components and stick with schools.
Lul, wot?

Microsoft are deep into education. Google just went in with cheaper offerings (initially).
 

Cyberpunkd

Gold Member
Take what the corpo gives ya. How very "cyberpunkd".
You can either quote my username or you can actually present evidence to the contrary.

If you want to get into cyberpunk stuff how about this - Android OS is shit and it’s lack of easy and frequent updates and bloatware of each manufacturer’s overlay contributes to why they are less popular than iPads.

Let’s not even start on the fact that Android OS was made by the company where sole purpose is to monetise your data and information. Corpo enough for you?
 
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akimbo009

Gold Member
You can either quote my username or you can actually but evidence to the contrary.

If you want to get into cyberpunk stuff how about this - Android OS is shit and it’s lack of easy and frequent updates and bloatware of each manufacturer’s overlay contributes to why they are less popular than iPads.

Let’s not even start on the fact that Android OS was made by the company where sole purpose is to monetise your data and information. Corpo enough for you?
Yeah there is no bloat to Apple's ecosystem.... None whatsoever. Just using child labor, and dreaming the Steve Jobs dream. I got you.
 

Fake

Member
Lul, wot?

Microsoft are deep into education. Google just went in with cheaper offerings (initially).
Windows netbooks are terrible because Windows OS are spec hungry. I got one and barely work.

Windows are strong in rich space and high end university, while Chromebook are strong in middle class/ poor countries.
 
never understood the market for a premium chromebook. the whole idea of them was to offer a cheap browser based OS. you can't have cheap and premium build quality/specs. you might be able to go so far but the price of the Pixel chromebooks were silly.
 

Tams

Member
Windows netbooks are terrible because Windows OS are spec hungry. I got one and barely work.

Windows are strong in rich space and high end university, while Chromebook are strong in middle class/ poor countries.
Mate, it's 2022, not 2010.

Microsoft are behind in terms of student devices (only part of the market), but even they themselves offer the Surface Go 3, and Surface Laptop Go 2. Both a little on the more expensive side, but run just fine.

And Windows 11 22H2 recently released, with stuff like stickers for the desktop. OneaNote on Windows also remains the best notetaking program by a country mile.
 

Fake

Member
Mate, it's 2022, not 2010.

Microsoft are behind in terms of student devices (only part of the market), but even they themselves offer the Surface Go 3, and Surface Laptop Go 2. Both a little on the more expensive side, but run just fine.

And Windows 11 22H2 recently released, with stuff like stickers for the desktop. OneaNote on Windows also remains the best notetaking program by a country mile.

I talking about the cost dude and you put Surface?

Reread again my post. Poor countries. Microsoft can try all they want, but their OS will never fit low specs configuration. They even tried using ARM notebook and failed.
 

Lasha

Member
99.9% do not ever need a side loaded program. You want to play around making splash boot screens or using fancy UI overlay that’s your business, but it is nowhere close to what people buy tablets for.

Side loading is important if you want stuff that the app store won't let you have or is region locked. I use a bunch of apps that are blocked in my region. Android's open nature allows you to remove bloatware and anything else you don't like. It's also nice to easily grab beta/older versions of apps to get around bugs (smb vlc is a good example). Apple also blocks off entire categories of apps like emulators and epics stuff is only available through side loading.
 

RoboFu

One of the green rats
Mate, it's 2022, not 2010.

Microsoft are behind in terms of student devices (only part of the market), but even they themselves offer the Surface Go 3, and Surface Laptop Go 2. Both a little on the more expensive side, but run just fine.

And Windows 11 22H2 recently released, with stuff like stickers for the desktop. OneaNote on Windows also remains the best notetaking program by a country mile.
Not for me .. I like to use my MacBook for notes or iPhone/iPad with apple notes . It all goes to the same place. I can even use the combination of them together to catalog pics to my MacBook in real-time from my iPhone. Apples notes has everything as well drawing , handwriting recognition , take pics.. everything. Then like I said you can handoff to a MacBook while as auto save to cloud.

Windows locks you into a bunch of bs juggling and saving if you want to share between devices.
 
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Tams

Member
Not for me .. I like to use my MacBook for notes or iPhone/iPad with apple notes . It all goes to the same place. I can even use the combination of them together to catalog pics to my MacBook in real-time from my iPhone. Apples notes has everything as well drawing , handwriting recognition , take pics.. everything. Then like I said you can handoff to a MacBook while as auto save to cloud.

Windows locks you into a bunch of bs juggling and saving if you want to share between devices.
You can literally drag and drop from your phone, mate. At least if it's an Android device, which is no better or worse than Apple's walled garden.

Sounds like you've dug yourself too deep into Apple land to see what else is out there.

If being in trapped in the Apple walled garden is fine with you, whatever. Don't start talking shit about other stuff though if you refuse to come out of it.
 

Bitmap Frogs

Mr. Community
I always liked the pixelbooks as an aspirational end-game to chrome-os and since there's a linux kernel running the whole thing that always opened interesting gates
 
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