With Pixelbook deleted, here’s the replacement I hope for

Yesterday the news came on the web that Google has decided to move away from the first-party Chromebook hardware and that the Pixelbook team has been shut down. While this is a huge disappointment and a sad day for Chromebook lovers everywhere, I understand it. Gabriel explained the reason for this move in his post and it makes sense if Google is pulling back the reins on staff resources a bit that Pixelbook’s specific team would get the ax.

To reiterate what was said in that post, Google doesn’t have to create Pixelbooks for the Chromebook market to grow. In fact, they technically only made two Pixelbooks in the 11-year life of ChromeOS and only made a total of 5 devices all together if you count the Chromebook Pixel and Chromebook Pixel LS. These are a small number of proprietary hardware from the ChromeOS maker, and each was created specifically to advance the market in one way or another. When a new Pixelbook is needed again, I bet we’ll see one.

Google’s Chromebooks had the special sauce

With the wide variety of Chromebooks on the market at this point, and a huge number of models still only arriving in 2022, there’s no need to worry about Chromebook options dwindling anytime soon. With bold, high-end Chromebooks like the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook and excellent mid-range options like the Acer Chromebook Spin 513, there’s probably a Chromebook model to suit your needs.

So what stood out in the Pixel, Pixelbook, and Pixelbook Go Chromebook? What was it about those laptops that attracted so much attention and adoration? None of them had the higher end specs than the devices released in the same time frame. They didn’t have any shocking gimmicks or tricks, and they didn’t run proprietary software you couldn’t get on any other Chromebook. So why were they special?

I think the answer boils down to aesthetics and attention to detail. It seemed that Google always preferred form over function with its proprietary Chromebooks and not only did you see it – you could feel it too. To date, the Pixelbook Go is a treat to take and use, and the original Pixelbook still looks like a laptop that could have debuted in 2022 (if you ignore the bezels). Build quality isn’t just good – it’s great. The look and feel isn’t just unique – it’s class-leading.

Like other Google hardware (think Pixel phones, Nest Hub, etc.), these devices weren’t perfect, but they felt considered. They felt tested, carefully designed and carefully crafted. It was like there was an entire team thinking only of things like the feel in the hand, the look on a desk, and the solidity of the materials. The only other laptops I can draw similarities with are Microsoft’s Surface devices and Apple’s Macbooks. Like Google’s Chromebooks, these devices are in a different class when it comes to aesthetics, looks, build quality, and attention to small details.

Manufacturers need to take a step forward

Now that Google appears to be completely out of space, at least for the moment, what we have to see that some manufacturers are entering the gap. While devices like the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook are a solid step in that direction, they still lack the fit and finish that Google has put into their devices. Call it a gut feeling or just a penchant for the finer things, but I have yet to pick up a single Chromebook (or Windows laptop for that matter) that matches the build quality of Google’s Chromebooks, Apple’s Macbooks, or Microsoft’s Surface devices.

If this were the end of the story, I would simply acknowledge the fact that most laptop manufacturers are either clueless or indifferent when it comes to this kind of high-end build quality. But I don’t think that’s the way it is, and I think there is more that could happen in the Chromebook space because of the way Google is invested and involved in the entire Chromebook market.

Unlike Windows laptops, Google actually gets involved every single Chromebook which is sold. To varying degrees, they have their hands on each and that means they could help manufacturers who want to make better Chromebooks. The HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is a perfect example of this – by HP’s admission, Google was very involved in creating that laptop, and it’s truly excellent. It has all kinds of fun features and stands out from the rest of the range as the absolute best Chromebook you can buy right now.

But I can say I’ve been running it for weeks at this point Google probably helped with the insides of this Chromebook, but not the exteriors. The Dragonfly is great and is built solidly, but it lacks that attention to detail, fit and finish that you would get in a first-party Google product. HP is unable to do this? Don’t they care about that last detail in their laptops? I bet it doesn’t, but they could use the help and constructive criticism of Google’s hardware team to turn a device like the Dragonfly from awesome to truly amazing.

Perhaps some hardware OEMs could step in from where the Pixelbook left off and decide that they will not only produce high-performance Chromebooks, but high-class ones as well. Could Acer, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Dell or ASUS work closely with Google and build a Pixelbook-style device? It shouldn’t carry the Pixelbook name or the specialized Google branding, but it could be marketed as a device built in partnership with Google or something similar.

I think if consumers knew that there were some high-end options out there that Google helped build in a more Pixelbook-like way, they’d be less concerned about whether or not Google is making a new Chromebook, and they’d become a lot more interested. to those devices instead. At the end of the day, people weren’t interested in the Pixelbooks for their features or performance – it was all about the quality of the materials, the feel and the look. These are hurdles that other OEMs can definitely overcome, and if they do, I think solid sales numbers could ensue.

Will we ever see this kind of thing? It’s unclear for now, but with the Pixelbook’s demise, I think it would be well received. Especially in the consumer market, there is a small hole when we look at the high end of the spectrum. We have high-end Chromebooks in the enterprise sector, but not on Best Buy’s shelves. We don’t need a lot of devices up there, but a mature market needs a few, especially with the void left by this latest Google news. While the middle ground is definitely the meat and potatoes of the Chromebook market, there is room for success at the top as well. We hope to see some contenders sooner or later.

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