Google’s officially done making its own tablets

Google’s officially done making its own tablets

Here’s an interesting little nugget of info to chew on: Google’s decided to step away from its self-made tablets and focus instead on the laptop form.

To be clear, Google hadn’t actually announced any tablet-specific products this year; the last such item that made its way to the market was the Pixel Slate in 2018. But, as I learned today, the company did have two smaller-sized tablets under development — and earlier this week, it decided to drop all work on those devices and make its roadmap revolve entirely around laptops instead.

A couple of clarifying points here: First, none of this has any impact on Pixel phones. Pixel phones and Pixel computers are two different departments, and the roadmap in question is related exclusively to the latter. (The same applies to the various Google Home/Nest products. What we’re talking about today has absolutely zero impact on any that stuff.)

And second, when Google talks about a “tablet,” it means a device that detaches completely from a keyboard base or doesn’t even have a physical keyboard in the first place — not a swiveling two-in-one convertible like the Pixelbook. The Pixelbook, with its attached keyboard and 360-degree hinge, falls under Google’s definition of “laptop.” Blurred lines, baby.

A Google spokesperson directly confirmed all of these details to me. The news was revealed at an internal company meeting on Wednesday, and Google is currently working to reassign employees who were focused on the abandoned projects onto other areas. Many of them, I’m told, have already shifted over to the laptop side of that same self-made hardware division.

As for the cast-aside tablets, the only details we know for sure are that they were smaller in size, compared to Google’s existing products, and that they were standalone slates without keyboards. They weren’t even far enough along in their development to have names beyond the codenames used for internal reference. So ultimately, what we’re saying here is that Google was working on some stuff that it hadn’t discussed publicly, and it’s now decided to move away from those projects.

So, yeah: “Unannounced products won’t be announced,” in other words. Nothing too earth-shattering, I realize. It’s noteworthy, though, mostly because of the history here — with reports earlier this year that Google was planning to pivot and “scale back” on its self-made hardware efforts — and because of what the move reveals to us about the future of the company’s homemade computers.

As for that future, a Google spokesperson tells me it’s quite possible we’ll see a new laptop-oriented Pixelbook product before the end of this year. The existing Pixel Slate will continue to be supported and to receive regular software updates all the way through June of 2024, meanwhile, as had initially been promised — nothing’s changing there. And the Chrome OS team in general will continue to focus on both laptops and tablets with its software development, as regardless of Google’s plans for its own self-made hardware, plenty of other manufacturers still create Chrome OS devices with all types of forms.

The real news, again, is simply that Google is refocusing its own computer-making efforts to laptops — the nondetachable variety, with or without swiveling screens in place — and away from tablets for the foreseeable future.

And now you know.

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