Made. By. Google.
It has a certain enigmatic appeal to it. On one hand, it seems a strange, fairy-tale we’ve all talked about but never really believed in. On the other hand, it makes perfect sense. Google has spent years gathering data about EVERYTHING. Now, the search giant has self-evolved into something so much more. Because what good is knowledge without application? The 10/4 #madebygoogle event gave us a taste of what Google has been doing with all of these bits and bytes of data and what they intend on doing with it.
The Pixel Phone, Google Home, Chromecast, Google WiFi and at the center of it all, the Google Assistant; initial thoughts would leave you feeling Google is trying to corner the market on “all the things”. But this isn’t an exclusive club. Google isn’t attempting to take over the hardware market. Why would they? Google products and services already permeate every OS around the world in some shape, form or fashion.
Instead, they are marketing themselves. Google is creating an integrated platform for the web and all its devices. They are also inviting others to be a part of this movement. The release of the Google Assistant SDK to developers allows OEMs to create devices for this new ecosystem Google is creating.
We would be extremely remiss if we said we weren’t more than a little disappointed by Google’s display this past week. Don’t get me wrong, all the new “things” are wonderful. Not to mention the possibilities that the Google Assistant brings to these products: not excluding Chromebooks.
Robby and I have spent the past week chewing up and digesting the countless applications Google’s new poster child could bring to the Chrome OS environment. We will dig a little deeper into that later this week. For the time being, my question with all the new Google stuff is:
Where is the Chromebook #madebygoogle?
Before you start going down the wrong trail, this isn’t a “Chromebooks are dead” kind of monologue. On the contrary, we believe it’s only the beginning of new era in the life of Chrome OS.
So, where is the next flagship Chromebook by Google? Is it ‘Kevin‘ or maybe ‘Cave‘? We think – or more accurately – hope so. With the complete lack of any mention of Chrome OS at Google’s hardware event, it would be easy to imagine that Chromebooks have taken a back seat to the next generation of “stuff”.
Combine that with the rather abrupt and untimely demise of the 2015 Chromebook Pixel, you might wonder if Google even has room in their future for another Chrome OS device.
Regardless of the rumors and speculation, one fact remains; Chromebooks aren’t going anywhere. Not anytime soon, anyway. Development of Chromium OS and the devices that house it continues to move forward at an exceedingly fast pace. New devices with the latest and greatest chipsets, hardware and features are being tested and produced everyday.
Let’s look at a timeline here. Google has been busy getting ready for the event that essentially shifts them from being a data-mining, 800 pound gorilla that thrives on advertising income to a consumer-focused, product-conscious company. The goal, as we have mentioned, is to create a unified platform for any imaginable number of devices and applications.
Needless to say, they have been busy.
We now have The Play Store on a small handful of Chrome OS devices with many more coming in the very near future. The recently announced Acer R13 Chromebook is available for order and possibly shipping as early as this week. As Robby has stated, the Acer R13 has become a sort of poster-child for the Android App on Chrome OS revolution. But, the fact still remains that the Play Store, while coming soon, is not quite a standard feature at this point.
A good reason to wait.
Not announcing a new Google Chrome device, in my opinion, was a very smart marketing decision. There are a lot of high-hopes for the Acer, but it’s the proverbial “first man through the wall” and no matter how good of a device it is, it will get bloodied because it is the first. If Google is in fact attempting to become a true contender in the hardware arena, they would be wise to build a device that not only leverages the Play Store but all of the newest technology available to Chrome OS. The new Pixel Phone is a perfect example. It boasts some very exciting, exclusive features and the only legitimate complaint thus far is the price.
But, let’s be honest, it’s a flagship phone.
Google hasn’t pulled any punches. This isn’t the Nexus program. Like it or not, they have created a phone for the high-end mobile user and it will sell.
Back to the Chromebook
If the elusive ‘Kevin’ device is, in fact, a Google-made Chromebook, it would fit the bill for the direction the company has turned. High-res display, active stylus/digitizer and convertible all take full advantage of Chrome OS and the Play Store. Not to mention the display size. 12.3″ falls right in the sweet spot. As we speak, I am typing on an 11.6″ device with a very nice display and I must say, it’s quite comfortable. Normally I would be working on my Acer 15 which is HUGE and for web development and productivity it is perfect. Plenty of real estate to move around without feeling cluttered.
Google, however, is obviously not focusing on developers at the moment. They are looking to the household, the consumer majority. With a cart full of products for the home and the ability to market to the masses, Google has now become a retail product.
As with any high-end retail product, timing is very important. Until the Play Store comes to full fruition, a device like this would feel lacking. The new peripherals and features need testing and more testing. A device #madebygoogle would do wise to take cues from the reception of other products such as the Acer R13 and a hurried release could result in a make-or-break situation for the first Chromebook branded #madebygoogle.
No matter the vessel, Google is selling itself
Years spent mining data, wooing developers, leveraging manufacturers to create the best of the best of fill-in-the-blank. It’s quite brilliant actually. Google can now create competitive retail product while simultaneously allowing other manufacturers to get in on the game. They have partnered with the best and brightest OEMs over the years to create products that demonstrate “what could be.” Some have been exceptional. Others, not so much. Either way, Google has done what they do best; learn.
In short, I believe a #madebygoogle Chromebook is coming. When it does you can be sure it, like its predecessors, will be a testament to the capabilities of Chrome OS combined with the best hardware. As a byproduct of Google’s new consumer initiative we should see a product that is readily available without the exclusivity of the previous Pixel devices.
That’s my 2 cents, for what it’s worth.