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September 19, 2022
Time to Re-Image the Chromebook

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There has been a lot of press recently about Google and the decisions being made to maintain profitability. One decision being reported by the Verge is the cancelation of the new PixelBook Chromebook. Indeed, it looks like it’s dying already. The Google store shows the PixelBook Go i7 version as out of stock and all remaining versions are only available in “Just Black”. Remember this is the latest/only “Pixel” Chromebook. 

 

The speculation is all over the map on this and includes the follows.

  • poor demand
  • better available choices
  • no longer serves Google interests
  • blah, blah, blah …

 

I don’t buy any of it.

 

Apparently Google is not as profitable as it has been and without going into an analysis of its value or stock price, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of the parent company Alphabet, is publicly stating its time to cut back.

 

It’s hard to say if the decision was made at the top or with Rick Osterloh who is the Senior Vice President of Devices and Services. He came to Google with the acquisition of Motorola some years back and if I were to rank products which gather Rick’s attention in order of importance, they would be.

 

  1. Phone / accessories
  2. Nest
  3. Other consumer products which do not carry the Nest brand
  4. Consumer computing devices

 

Under the heading “Consumer computer devices” the Chromebook Pixel is the only device on the table. However, as it currently stands, Google plans to release one or two tablets in the near future. Although I wish the best, I see troubled waters ahead. The reason for this is twofold.

 

  1. Google may have had loyal tablet customers in the past, but when they axed the product line they forced those customers and any new customers to move on to Apple, Samsung, or other. Pulling them back will be challenging, pulling new customers from competitors will be tough. Who wants to purchase a product from a company who has demonstrated they are not committed to it?
     
  2. Does Google really know what a compelling tablet experience should be? With history as our teacher, the answer is no.

 

The point is discontinuing a product line is serious, and if Google is discontinuing the Pixel Chromebook, who will lead the Chromebook experience going forward? What about Chrome OS?

 

One scenario is the Chromebook will become a niche product, primarily serving education. Low cost Chromebook fits the primary and secondary education market very well and Google has done a good job of supporting this market with software products.

 

Unless changes are made, the consumer and business Chromebooks will wither and die on the vine. There is simply no compelling reason to purchase a device with limited scope or functionality when it is possible to achieve a satisfying user web experience using the Chrome browser. I am thinking MacBook Air or Dell XPS.

 

It’s hard for me to envision someone else picking up the mantel, but if they did, I suggest the following.

 

tips_and_updates​Don’t be something you’re not.

  • Stop supporting Android. If I need to run an Android app, I already have a solution.
     
  • Stop supporting Linux. If I want to use Linux, a Chromebook is not my best choice.
     
  • Stop trying to be a tablet. Chromebooks never made good tablets and tablets never made good Chromebooks.

 

tips_and_updates​Be the best at what you do.

  • Connectivity should be the best.
     
  • The screen should offer the best web viewing experience available.
     
  • Great typing experience.
     
  • Great touchpad experience.
     
  • HD web cam.
     
  • Great audio experience.
     
  • Biometric login.

 

tips_and_updates​Don’t skimp on the Muscle

  • Make sure the CPU, GPU, and memory are up to keeping the experience snappy. 

 

tips_and_updates​Use premium Materials

  • A quality product needs to have a premium look and feel.

 

tips_and_updates​Expand Software Choices

The other side of the coin is software. Google has done a good job with their application suite and Workspace, but they must do more. They need to create new software or buy/partner with companies which have good solutions to fill the gaps in their lineup. Scenarios which come to mind are:

 

 

Who knows, maybe a Chromebook will never be as good as running Chrome on a MacBook Air or Dell XPS but it’s important to remember those products come with other browsers, other ecosystems as the preferred solution.

October 2, 2022