Google will not be launching a sequel to last year’s Pixel Slate tablet, according to Business Insider and Computer World, and will instead focus its Chrome OS hardware efforts on traditional laptop devices like the Pixelbook. “For Google’s first-party hardware efforts, we’ll be focusing on Chrome OS laptops and will continue to support Pixel Slate,” a spokesperson told Business Insider.
Translation: you can expect the Slate to continue to receive software and security updates for several years to come — but there won’t be a Pixel Slate 2. Rick Osterloh, who leads Google’s hardware business, confirmed as much on Twitter on Thursday afternoon.
Hey, it’s true…Google’s HARDWARE team will be solely focused on building laptops moving forward, but make no mistake, Android & Chrome OS teams are 100% committed for the long-run on working with our partners on tablets for all segments of the market (consumer, enterprise, edu)
— Rick Osterloh (@rosterloh) June 20, 2019
Google went so far as to reveal that it has axed two in-development tablet products, moving the employees who had been working on them to other areas of the company. (Most have apparently joined the Pixelbook team.) The tablets were both smaller in size than the Pixel Slate and were planned for release “sometime after 2019.” But disappointing quality assurance testing results led Google to completely abandon both devices. Google informed employees of its decision on Wednesday.
The Pixel Slate received largely mediocre reviews when it went on sale last year. Google earned praise for the device’s hardware design, but the software felt unfinished — Chrome OS has yet to really feel at home on a tablet — and lower-priced versions of the Slate suffered from extremely sluggish performance and lag. It’s rare to see an MKBHD review that’s this bruising:
Google has resolved some of those issues with updates, but more than anything else, the company might have realized that taking on Apple’s iPad was going to be a losing battle. The iPad is offered at multiple price points, has an enormous selection of apps, and is set to gain productivity enhancements this fall with the rollout of iPadOS. And the Slate was never going to best Microsoft’s Surface for consumers really seeking a full-blown desktop PC experience on a tablet.
The Pixelbook, meanwhile, has been met with much better feedback from customers since its release in 2017 owing to its fantastic keyboard, nice screen, lightweight design, and unique style. And it’s now clear that a new model is on the way. A Google spokesperson told Computer World, which also reported on this news, that it’s “very likely” a Pixelbook 2 will see release before the end of 2019.
At the same time, Osterloh is trying to underline that Google has every intention of improving Chrome OS on tablet devices — since several companies including Acer and HP have already released products in that form factor. But Google itself throwing in the towel isn’t a great vote of confidence.