Google has scrapped the upcoming Pixelbook and has disbanded the team that was working on it

Google has scrapped the upcoming Pixelbook and has disbanded the team that was working on it

Google has shelved the next iteration of its Pixelbook notebook and disbanded the team in charge of its development. According to a source familiar with the subject, the gadget was well advanced in development and was slated to launch next year, but the project was axed as part of recent cost-cutting efforts inside Google. Members of the team have been relocated within the organization.

Google had planned to keep the Pixelbook running till a few months ago. Google hardware executive Rick Osterloh told The Verge ahead of the company’s annual I/O developer conference that “we are planning to offer Pixelbooks in the future.” But he also admitted that the Chromebook industry has altered since the first (and finest) Pixelbook debuted in 2017.

Google’s hardware approach, notably with the Pixel smartphones, has been to create fantastic products while also attempting to demonstrate to other manufacturers how to do it. It started investing in Pixel phones to demonstrate what Google’s version of Android might look like. More recently, the business has re-entered the wristwatch market, with the Pixel Watch arriving in a few weeks, and is developing an Android tablet for release next year. Both of these later products exist in markets where the majority of Android handsets have failed. Google is attempting to persuade developers, manufacturers, and consumers that it is possible to be good.

Similarly, Google spent almost a decade convincing the world that a high-end Chromebook was a smart idea. When Google released the first Chromebook Pixel in 2013, it went intentionally over the top, placing ChromeOS — an operating system Google’s then-CEO Eric Schmidt had declared will be featured on “totally throwaway” hardware — on a stunning gadget with a $1,300 price tag. Google never intended for Chromebook hardware to matter, but it does, so Google produced the finest hardware. Nonetheless, the Pixel and subsequent Pixelbook variants were specialized devices with high costs, and although Google does not break out its Chromebook sales, it was plainly too pricey to have a significant impact on the larger laptop market.

When Google announced the Pixelbook in 2017, the argument for ChromeOS had shifted somewhat. It was no longer simply a lovely, functional laptop; it was also a convertible, flipping gadget that could be used as a tablet. Google even created a pen called the Pixelbook Pen to go with the gadget. Google’s Pixelbook was an effort to compete with the iPad and the MacBook Air in a single package. It had Google Assistant, could connect to a Pixel phone and access its data, and could run Android applications. It embodied the whole of Google’s computer vision.

Google has mainly failed to recreate what made the Pixelbook amazing since then. It proceeded to pursue and Chrome OS-ize anything that seemed to be the future of computing: first, there was the catastrophic Pixel Slate, a tablet with an attachable keyboard that resembled the Microsoft Surface. Then there was the Pixelbook Go, a smaller and somewhat cheaper version of the Pixelbook that, by the time it was released in 2019, couldn’t compete.

By 2019, something weird had occurred: Chromebooks were excellent! Acer, Asus, and other manufacturers had started to invest in non-disposable hardware for their ChromeOS devices. Lenovo had a Yoga Chromebook, while Dell and HP were beginning to offer Chromebooks in a variety of pricing points and configurations. Chromebooks have progressed from “the bad but inexpensive choice” to a viable Windows alternative. Most of those solutions were also far less expensive than any of Google’s Pixelbooks.

Chromebooks exploded in the early days of the pandemic, when pupils needed to attend school from home. According to IDC statistics, ChromeOS devices outsold Apple’s Macs for the first time. According to Canalys, the number of Chromebooks sold increased by 275 percent between the first quarter of 2020 and the same time in 2021. However, as the PC industry has slowed following a strong early epidemic boost, ChromeOS has declined more than most: Gartner predicts Chromebooks will be down a whole 30% by 2022.

Meanwhile, Google hasn’t released a new laptop in over three years, but the Pixelbook Go is still available at the company’s online shop. Some have suggested in recent months that Google’s Tensor processor may be a motivation for the corporation to reinvest in the field, searching for ways to bring its AI power to ChromeOS and laptops — and finally address the Android compatibility issue.

Going ahead, it’s apparent that the firm is concentrating its efforts where it feels the Android ecosystem needs them: smartwatches and tablets. It’s also conceivable that after years of attempting to create elegant, cutting-edge Chromebooks, the business has decided that schools and kids will continue to be the greatest ChromeOS consumers and will never pay Google’s rates.

To be fair, Google has a long history of abandoning projects before resuming them — smartwatches and even Google Glass come to mind, and remember three years ago when Google announced it was exiting the tablet market to focus solely on laptops? — so Google may someday decide it needs to help juice the Chromebook market again. But, for the time being, the ChromeOS market is robust, and Google is no longer attempting to advance it.

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