It looks like the Google Pixelbook is no more, with reports that not only has Google cancelled its upcoming Chromebook, but it’s also disbanded the team who were working on it.
This news, as reported by The Verge (opens in new tab), is a real blow. The previous model, the Pixelbook Go, wasn’t just one of the best Chromebooks ever made, it was one of the best laptops as well.
It also comes as a bit of a surprise, as there were hints that Google was working on a new Pixelbook as recently as at this year’s Google I/O. A Google spokesperson also hinted to us last year that a new Pixelbook was coming.
Sadly, it seems that the plans have now changed, likely in part to Google’s decision to cut costs by cancelling or pausing certain projects. Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, wrote in a memo (and seen by The Verge (opens in new tab)), that these measures “means pausing development and re-deploying resources to higher priority areas.” It seems like the team working on future Pixelbooks have been redeployed elsewhere in Google.
Analysis: Farewell, Pixelbook
The Pixelbook series only had two entries – the original, high-end Pixelbook, alongside the more affordable Pixelbook Go – but it certainly made a mark.
The original Pixelbook was supposed to showcase the potential of Chromebooks. Rather than just being cheap devices for browsing the web and firing off a few emails, the Pixelbook came with an impressive 2,400 x 1,600 screen, 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM and an Intel Core i5 processor – the kind of specs that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a high-end laptop.
Its aim was to challenge people’s preconceptions of what a Chromebook is, while also acting as inspiration for other Chromebook makers (Google is, of course, also behind the Chrome OS operating system that all Chromebooks run, so has a vested interest in the success of all Chromebooks, not just its own). That was a tough – pretty much impossible – task, and so it may not be much surprise to learn that it didn’t succeed.
The main problem was the high price – launching at $999/£999 (around AU$1,500) and going up to $1,649 / £1,699 (around AU$2,400), the lack of sales showed the world was just not ready for an expensive Chromebook.
The follow-up, the Pixelbook Go, was more affordable, but starting at $849 / £829 (about AU$1,250), it was still far more expensive than most Chromebooks, despite offering excellent performance and battery life, plus one of the best keyboards we’ve even used on a laptop.
Again, the Pixelbook Go remained a niche product, despite glowing reviews (including from us).
With Google now apparently ending Pixelbook development, it seems like there’s no appetite for premium Chromebooks with price tags to match. Understandable, but we can’t help feeling sad that this could mean Chromebooks are doomed to always be seen as budget devices, when they could have been so much more.