Here we are again. It seems like only yesterday that Robby took to his keyboard to clear up some relatively common misconceptions about how Chromebook motherboards are developed and more importantly how they are named. It all started when rumors started making their way around the web about a certain Chromebook in development code-named ‘Zork’. The mystery device is powered by the recently announced Ryzen C-series chips from AMD and from what we’ve been tracking, is going to offer up some of the latest and greatest features that Chrome OS has to offer.
Benchmarks began popping up in April/June of this year that listed the Chromebook as ‘Google Zork’ and that’s where the confusion began. Sites that don’t cover Chromebooks to the degree that we do took the “Google” branding to mean that Google was making a new Chromebook. Honest mistake. If I tried to dig around the Android repository, I would likely make similar follies when trying to decipher stuff that isn’t Chrome OS-related. Robby did his best to clear their air around this confusion but apparently, some tech blogs missed the memo.
The fact of the matter is, most Chrome OS devices that are benchmarked on Geekbench report the board name as Google (fill in the blank). Here’s a quick example from the Geekbench 4 search results. You can see that the entire list consists of devices that have “Google” appended to the beginning of the board or device name. None of which are actually Google-made Chromebooks.
Well, it seems at though a new “leak” has come out that is causing a number of blogs to once again point to ‘Zork’ and tell the world that a new Pixelbook is on the way. This time, the information is actually being sourced directly from Google’s Play Console. This is the platform where Android app developers upload and maintain their respective applications. In the settings, developers can set which devices have access to their applications. Since Chromebooks have the Play Store, Chrome OS devices are included in this device management list. The report originated from 91mobiles that shared a screenshot of the “Google AMD Raven Ridge Chromebook” that also carried the nomenclature ‘zork_cheets’. Here’s is Exhibit A, the screenshot:
I suppose that I can understand why someone would think this may be a Google Chromebook but again, we’ve covered this on multiple occasions. Chrome OS devices, in general, have “Google” in the board name somewhere because they all begin life in the Chromium repository and Google works directly with each OEM/ODM to get the Chromebook ready for the Chrome OS seal of approval. Chrome OS is Google’s desktop OS and Google puts its stamp on it before it can reach the public.
All that to say, the latest “leak” of the Google Chromebook named Zork is a situation just like previous occasions where device board names have led some to believe that a Chromebook was #MadeByGoogle. If you don’t believe me, below you will find Exhibit B. This is the list of Chromebook devices in the Google Play Console that bear the name Google. You will notice that most of these Chromebooks are made not by Google but by other Chromebook manufacturers or no OEM at all because they are simply baseboards that are used at the starting point for retail devices.
As you can see, we have devices such as the CB3-431 which happens to be the old-school Acer Chromebook 14(Braswell), a RockChip device, and a Stoney Ridge AMD Chromebook. Google does not have a Chromebook with these or some of the other CPUs. Believe me, we want to see a new Pixelbook as bad as any of you but this tiny “leak” in no way indicates a new #MadeByGoogle Chromebook. As a matter of fact, Zork will likely never be an actual retail device. Instead, it is the baseboard for what will become a range of Chromebooks like the upcoming Lenovo ThinkPad C13 and the HP Pro Chromebook c645. These devices are powered by the AMD Ryzen chipsets and they are well into production which is probably why Zork is now showing up in the Google Play Console. The Ryzen Chromebooks will have to be added to the same app compatibility lists that every other Play Store-enable Chrome OS has been.
At the end of the day, this was merely a case of misunderstanding but at the same time, the confusion could have been easily avoided with just a scant amount of research. We were able to log into the Play Console and pull a list of eligible Chromebooks just like anyone else could do with a $25 Android Developer account. Hopefully, we WILL see a new Google Chromebook sooner than later but I hate to tell you, Zork is most likely not it and that’s not a bad thing. When Google rolls out another Chromebook, it should be a true successor to the original Pixelbook and my hope is that will mean 11th Gen Tiger Lake CPUs with Xe graphics and all the fixings. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see what Google has up its sleeve. Stay tuned.