Opinion: Pixelbook Go isn’t the Pixelbook 2 You’ve Been Waiting For

Published by Jesse Afolabi on

Shadow cast over the pixelbook

So here’s a far-fetched claim (or not): the Pixelbook Go is Google’s Go to the Pixelbook as opposed to a worthy Pixelbook 2 update to the beloved OG Pixelbook. 

Looking back:

Google has a reputation of sticking to their guns when it comes to tried and tested methodologies and you could argue this culture applies to every branch of their business as well as their parent company, Alphabet. 

Pixelbook ushered in a new era for Chrome OS and was widely praised amongst enthusiasts and typical end-users alike. A convertible form factor with a particularly slim profile and an exceptionally crafted chassis to boot; you’d be mistaking to think Google would let the Pixelbook’s glory fade into obsolescence.

YouTube vs Facebook

Our colleagues over at Chrome Unboxed and 9to5Google have done an exceptional job tracking the development of “Atlas” the supposed codename to the Pixelbook Go. Their discoveries brought many details on the alleged device to the spotlight including the image below originally sourced by 9to5Google.

Google Pixelbook
Credits: 9to5Google

Previous revelations brought to our notice an aluminum chassis, clamshell form factor, and an only black color option?  

Google Pixelbook Go

Pixel Slate Woes:

Launching a new device category is no easy feat, however, given the debacle of the Pixel Slate series, it was only logical for Google to scale back its efforts and reanalyze its strategy.

My not so big take on the upcoming announcement of the purported Pixelbook Go is essentially Google testing the waters with a more traditional laptop offering that carries the highly successful “Pixelbook” moniker with corners cut, of course, but appropriately.

I kinda likened this to the situation of the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3 as the Pixelbook Go isn’t expected to be a slouch with a purported optional 4k display in tow. 

The former 3a is effectively an undercut model of the Pixel 3 that basically shares some of the core DNA of the Pixel 3 in regards to design and high-performance components. 

Effectively, Google is trying to harness the power of association [in the context of familiarity] in the hopes that the launch of the Pixelbook Go will piggyback off the success of the Pixelbook, enjoying the same [undeserved] clout like the Pixel 3a did at launch. 

This deduction is drawn from Google’s Android Go initiative which essentially offers stripped-down apps/services for Android devices characterized by low-powered internal components. On that note, we may expect any Google product tagged with “Go” essentially a stripped-down version of the parent device or software. It may also simply mean that Google is emphasizing the new Pixelbook’s place as a device for people always on the go hence the “Go”?

Pixelbook Go’s Place:

Following up on my argument of “Atlas’” surprising name scheme; It is my assumption that the Pixelbook Go series is in fact here to replace the Pixel Slate? The Pixel Slate, as you may know, is already being phased out and this is arguably a step in the wrong direction especially if Microsoft’s recent Surface event and Apple’s iPad OS announcement are to be taken seriously. 

Microsoft Surface 2019 Event: The Verge

My reasoning behind this argument stems from the trajectory at which the industry is moving … I’m talking about a multipurpose form-factor; one or two devices to rule them all and this immediately hints at the Pixelbook [for a professional and industrial setting] and quite naturally for the Pixel Slate series, a leisure first, business later approach. This has been a winning formula for Apple’s Macbook and iPad series for years because they both serve the aforementioned respective use-cases despite their obvious similarities which will certainly become more prominent with iPadOS. 

Essentially, the iPad has played the role of a companion device to the Macbook and that’s bound to remain the status quo for a pretty good while.

This clearly indicates an opportunity for Google to have a distinct line of devices like their Microsoft and Apple counterparts. Phasing the Pixel Slate out or replacing it with the Pixelbook Go will leave a void which may in turn drastically reduce Google’s chance of actively participating in the future of detachable and tablets.

Shadow cast over the pixelbook
Pixelbook in BW

Reasonably speaking, you could argue for the fact that such an Apple-esque model isn’t exactly feasible for Google but then again, you could table the same argument for Microsoft who are doing quite alright with their Surface line despite having had a few years of setbacks.

Contrastly, you could argue that Microsoft has learned to adapt and avert an untimely demise of its PC business – by learning from the competition – as opposed to fighting the natural progression of things. This is further emphasized by their recent announcement of an Android-powered Surface Duo slated for a 2020 release.

Now do not get me wrong; Google hasn’t made an explicit statement on completely phasing out this category but all hints point to that exactly.

As for that future, a Google spokesperson tells me it’s quite possible we’ll see a new laptop-oriented Pixelbook product before the end of this year. The existing Pixel Slate will continue to be supported and to receive regular software updates all the way through June of 2024 […]

Rapheal, ComputerWorld

This is particularly disheartening news for us Chrome OS diehards. It’s too early to see an entire device category go … Google would have dropped the ball on this one if they proceed as planned.

Also, you’d reckon that sometimes, adapting to the industrial trend is the only option and this is a position we’d very much like to see Google take.

To bring your attention back to Apple, the iPad has never been as profitable for the Cupertino-based conglomerate (but has been widely successful in its own right) when compared to its cash cow, the iPhone.

This has been the case ever since the introduction of the iPad but it stuck around because it served a specific niche of users and has grown to become indispensable for some of these folks especially with the increasingly seamless integrations that further blurs the line between both iPad and Macbook device categories.

For what it’s worth, the Pixel Slate is perhaps the best replacement for traditional iPad users looking to switch to Chrome OS and while it may never become as profitable as the Pixelbook or any other Pixel line of devices, it’d be a rather unwise business decision to completely phase it out.

Google Pixel Slate
More of this gorgeous!

Quite understandably, the convertible form factor is all too convenient and certainly here to stay but the Pixel Slate is, by far, Google’s best chance against the upcoming iPadOS-powered iPads. If left unattended, then we may expect the new iPads to yet again revolutionize this category and possibly win over potential Chrome OS converts … Call me crazy but this should most definitely be a wakeup call for Google. 

On referencing Apple’s successes, we can agree that there’s something inherently special about consistency in design and material across Apple’s line of devices that further reinforces the herd mentality – which some of its users are notorious for – thereby making the point to switch almost a fruitless endeavor.

This will certainly worsen if the Pixel Slate series is scrapped. That is to say, supposed Apple loyalists [looking to switch platforms] will always look for an experience akin to that of the iDevices they are accustomed to. And while the Pixelbook checks most boxes for as a good replacement to the Macbook, the same doesn’t ring true for the Pixelbook against the iPad.

The Pixelbook Go, however, will give Google a solid alternative to the Microsoft Surface line of laptops without compromising on performance, build and durability while still effortlessly targeted at professional users who are always on the go.

Making a case for the Pixelbook 2:

Having made the assertion that the Pixelbook Go isn’t, in fact, the Pixelbook 2 you were hoping for (and I, most certainly, hope I’m right) we may very well look forward to two possible devices.

The next bold claim is that “Atlas”, which is the codename for the Pixelbook Go is a god in Greek Mythology and might I assume that every Pixelbook Go iteration going forward may feature a greek god for its codename? Now that certainly will be far-fetched.

Back on the subject of the Pixelbook 2 (assuming you’ve given any credibility to my claims above), I can safely assume that it will continue the 2-year release schedule accustomed to the Pixels before it thereby suggesting a release alongside the Pixelbook Go.

But, of course, you shouldn’t take my word for it: anything could happen between now and the next Pixelbook release which could, in fact, just be the Pixelbook Go in all the glory of the “Atlas” we’ve come to know. 

Also, as you may know, the end result might, in fact, be far from what we expect considering these devices usually go through multiple developmental cycles. This, in essence, means there’s a high chance that the alleged Pixelbook Go might actually not end up looking like the pictures above and that the current chassis might, in fact, be that of a test device.

Chromebook Atla: Chrome Unboxed

This is, however, based on previous observations and it might not end up as we have speculated.

Conclusively,  the next Google hardware event is less than two weeks away and we might as well hold our horses until the time comes when the truth will be revealed for all to see. And for the last note, take everything I’ve said in this opinion piece with a proverbial grain of salt.

What do you think?

Jesse Afolabi

I founded ItsChromeOS in 2018 to spread the word on the future of Chrome OS with a passionate team of enthusiasts. Care about Chrome OS Flex? We cover that too! ItsChromeOS isn't your average blogging space, it's a Chrome-first space for the everyone using Chrome OS. Support our vision here: donate.itschromeos.com

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