We’re in a really fun season for Chromebooks right now.
Last year at this time, we were just uncovering the initial details on a pair of devices known only as ‘Kevin’ and ‘Caroline’ at the time.
We didn’t realize Samsung was working on a dual variation of its now well-known Chromebook Plus/Pro. But that didn’t really matter. What mattered was this duo of Chromebooks captivated the Chromebook community and, in some ways, still does. Right now, the Samsung Chromebook Pro and Plus are the best-selling Chromebooks you can find, and that solidifies their place as the poster child Chromebooks for 2016/2017.
Sure, the ASUS Flip C302 is an equally great device, but it never captured the overwhelming attention of the public the way The Samsung duo has.
‘Eve’ Is The Heir Apparent
Now everyone is talking about and clamoring over ‘Eve’, this year’s most hotly anticipated Chromebook. Just like ‘Kevin’ and ‘Caroline’ before it, ‘Eve’ is bringing features to Chromebooks we’ve not seen yet.
‘Eve’ is also combining every other already-used feature inside as well, giving us what feels like the definitive statement of what a Chromebook can be.
This approach was taken by Google with both Pixels in 2013 and 2015. Create a device that takes quality and features to the stratosphere just to give a showcase of what a Chromebook is fully capable of.
While the Pixel experiment accomplished that, they failed miserably as consumer devices. Granted, that wasn’t really Google’s objective, but it still stands: you don’t see Chromebook Pixels around very often and barely anyone knows they even exist outside the Chrome OS community.
The Pixels weren’t really made for that, though. They were priced way out of the range of a general consumer looking to buy a Chromebook. Nevermind the fact that at the time of their unveiling, Google’s product lineup was all over the map. Nexus phones were the primary mobile device on offer and OnHub was their largely-unknown router solution, but Google-branded devices didn’t really exist. Even the semi-successful (at the time) Chromecast didn’t bear the Google logo.
Things Are Different in 2017
Fast forward a bit and we are in a post-#madebyGoogle world. Gone are the days when Google only delivered software and services. Here are the days where Google has a line of integrated hardware that works really well, looks great, and sells.
Pixel phones are in a similar boat. Though not an iPhone killer in terms of units sold, the fact that almost every phone review to this day compares features with the Pixel is a telling fact that Google got most of it right on the first try.
We also have to mention Chromecast, the runaway smash and centerpiece of Google’s hardware efforts. The Chromecast saturation has fully taken off with integrated TVs and speakers and has cemented Chromecast as the definitive screen-sharing tool. It is by far the most successful Google hardware to date.
Let’s not forget Google Wifi, either. Again, not a runaway success in the order of Chromecast, but sales are steady and it is the first mesh setup I’ve seen general consumers gravitating towards. We have it set up in the office and in my home and I’ve been thrilled with both.
Lastly there is Daydream View, the standalone VR set for use with Google’s Daydream VR environment that is growing by the day. With Samsung now on board (which is significant, because Samsung has a whole branded VR setup in Gear VR itself) with Daydream, the growth in this space will expand quickly. Add to this the fact that HTC is building a standalone Daydream View headset that should be arriving in the fall and you have a bustling new arena where Google is taking the lead from both a software and hardware position.
All of this proves something very substantial: when Google makes, brands, and markets its own hardware, that hardware does well.
Even in a year where Google went from basically 1 branded hardware device (Chromecast has been around for years and Nexus/OnHub didn’t really carry the Google name) to 5, all these devices are seeing varying levels of success. I had my doubts back in October of 2016 that Google could make a dent in all these categories all at the same time.
Gladly, I was wrong.
Instead, Google has done extremely well with all these new products because they delivered quality hardware and paired it with solid, ongoing marketing.
Where ‘Eve’ Fits In
Keep in mind, we are freely assuming ‘Eve’ will be a Google product. While we feel that is a pretty safe assumption, it is still an assumption.
But, if we are going to stay in that lane and say ‘Eve’ will be a Google-made Chromebook, the addition of the Assistant and a dedicated Assistant button has us asking some different questions.
When Google initially dove head-first into the hardware game, it kept one consistent theme as it did so: Google Assistant. The event in October was nothing if not a showcase for Google Assistant, what it could do, and what it was going to be capable of down the road.
Now, with that perspective, the timeline we are on (‘Eve’ has been in the repositories for nearly 9 months) would put ‘Eve’ at a full year in development in October. Ostensibly, October will be roughly when we’ll see a 2017 version of the Pixel phones and whatever else Google chooses to update.
What if ‘Eve’ isn’t just made by Google. What if it is #madebyGoogle?
All the pieces fit very nicely together. We only see Google email addresses in the repositories on this device. That is unheard of. We know it is going to be a top-tier device. We also know it will likely be the first Chromebook with Assistant built in and with a dedicated Assistant key.
What if this is the Chromebook that finally joins the #madebyGoogle hardware family?
Sure, I’m throwing around a ton of ‘ifs’, but as I said above, the pieces all fit.
So, here’s another if. If this device shows up at Google’s hardware event (that we don’t have a date for yet) alongside the new Pixel phones and other hardware from Google, it will definitively change the Chromebook landscape.
As we see with #madebyGoogle hardware, Google gets the word out. Google gets marketing money behind these products. Google supports these products.
Consumers, as a result, take note.
And, since their inception, that is what Chromebooks have lacked. Chromebooks are killing it in schools, but it is high time that the average consumer was made aware of the benefits of Chromebooks and given a purchasing option that is the clear flagship in a growing pool of Chrome OS devices.
‘Eve’, if a #madebyGoogle product, will do this. Of that, I have little doubt. Google is clearly throwing tons of resources into getting Android running smoothly and getting Assistant ready for this Chromebook. If all the parts congeal at the right time, ‘Eve’ will be a device that defines a new generation of Chromebooks not just for Chrome OS fans, but for general consumers across the board.
Chromebooks being obscure might be a thing of the past if this pans out the way we are detailing here. Similar to the ascension of Google Home, Chromebooks could ride the wave of a #madebyGoogle Chromebook campaign into much broader overall consumer appeal.
Of course, this is all suspicion and assumption, so we can’t make any firm claims just yet. But this is all lining up and could substantially shake up the Chrome OS ecosystem in tons of positive ways. As always, we wait. We wait and hope. We hope and keep digging until this is all made clear.