In the midst of the hardware flurry that happened at Google I/O 2022, introducing the Pixel 7, Pixel Tablet, Pixel Watch, and Pixel Buds Pro, there was a tidbit from Google SVP Rick Osterloh spoken to The Verge that went completely under the radar regarding the future of the Pixelbook lineup. Searching the broader internet, I don’t think we were the only ones who missed this and that only makes sense given the onslaught of new hardware that was debuted and teased at the event back in May. While we’re still quite excited by all that new hardware, I frankly can’t believe I missed this, and Rick’s small admission has me truly excited for a Pixelbook of some sort in the future.
A new Pixelbook: some hope on the horizon
Up to this point, we’ve been unsure about Google’s future plans with the Pixelbook lineup. There was a rumor back when Tensor first hit the news that a Chromebook with the Google-made SoC would eventually be a thing, but it’s been radio silence since then. The only reports that had any certainty to them were clear indications that we wouldn’t get a new Pixelbook in 2021 or in 2022. All we had to go on was a quote from Chrys Tsolaki — Retail Partner Manager for Chromebooks at Google – who simply said, “Next year there won’t be anything coming. In the future, I don’t know.” Not the most heart-warming thing to hear as a Pixelbook fan.
While I’ve known in my gut that Google would eventually surface a new Pixelbook, I also knew that it likely wouldn’t happen until they needed to move the larger Chromebook market in a particular direction. With the original Chromebook Pixel devices, Google was showcasing premium hardware for ChromeOS to live on. With the Pixelbook, it was about encouraging Chromebook manufacturers to really lean into the convertible form factor, portability, and pen functionality. With the Pixel Slate, Google wanted to push the idea of ChromeOS tablets/detachables, and the Pixelbook Go was a clear statement that high-quality Chromebooks can be made on a reasonable budget and be absolutely awesome.
The premium Chromebook market is in a solid spot with devices like the HP Dragonfly and Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (just a couple examples), so what would be the actual purpose of an updated Pixelbook? Without something unique, it would be yet another high-end Chromebook in a market that has plenty of options near the top. While I fully believe that would still be amazing and a great option, I also realize that my hopes for Google’s hardware and their actual intentions are very different things. Google needs a reason to build a new Pixelbook, and I think that reason is here: Tensor.
Tensor is the reason for a new Pixelbook
With Tensor, Google has another reason to get into the Pixelbook development once again. This time, perhaps it is far less about pushing the overall Chromebook market forward and instead, Google is looking to push Tensor into new realms. If they end up sharing Tensor with other Chromebook OEMs, that could change the Chromebook landscape for sure, but I’m not totally convinced that will happen. And while in the past the purpose behind Google-made Chromebooks has always been about moving the greater Chromebook market to new places, I’m not even sure that is what’s happening this time around. Instead, it seems like Google’s reasoning this time around could be a bit more self-serving.
With Rick Osterloh’s admission that a new Pixelbook is in the cards, I think we all know what will be inside it. The Pixel Tablet is the first move for Google putting Tensor in a different, non-phone form factor, and I think a new Pixelbook will be the same type of shift. With Apple’s success in putting their own silicon inside all their hardware, Google clearly wants to move in the same direction. It began with Pixel phones, but I can see a future where all Pixel hardware – phones, tablets, watches, and Chromebooks – leverage Google’s Tensor SoC. To get there, we have to see the emergence of a Tensor Pixelbook, and with Osterloh’s statement, perhaps we’re not that far off from this reality. I sure hope that’s the case, and I’m quite sure many of you do, too.