On Thursday, Rick Osterloh, Google’s senior vice-president of “Devices and Services” in charge of the hardware division which includes the search engine’s home automation products (Nest, Google Home), Android smartphones (Pixel) and ChromeOS-powered laptops (Pixelbook), confirmed in a tweet that the Silicon Valley giant decided to quit making tablets.
“Hey, it’s true…Google’s HARDWARE team will be solely focused on building laptops moving forward,” wrote Osterloh. “But make no mistake, Android & Chrome OS teams are 100% committed for the long-run on working with our partners on tablets for all segments of the market (consumer, enterprise, edu).”
Google tablets: A history of failures
Google started its tablet effort seven years ago when it launched in June 2012 the Nexus 7, a 7-inch Android tablet which was developed and manufactured by Taiwanese maker Asus.
Google quickly followed up fourth months later with a larger 10-inch, the Nexus 10, version made by Samsung.
The following year, Google released the second generation of the Nexus 7 and in 2014, Google and HTC launched an 8.9-inch Android tablet, the Nexus 9.
In September 2015, Google launched a cutting-edge Android tablet—for the time—under its higher-end consumer electronics brand, the Pixel C. It was powered by an Nvidia Tegra X1 processor, when the graphics chipmaker was still relevant in the ARM-based mobile processor market.
After that, we’ll have to wait three years, in 2018, to witness another attempt from Google to break into the highly competitive tablet market, dominated by Samsung, Apple, and a lesser extent Microsoft with the Slate, with the launch of the Pixel Slate, a 12.3-inch “molecular display” tablet running ChromeOS, instead of Android, and competing with the iPad Pro.
After this week’s announcement, the Pixel Slate—that can cost up to $1,600—is now on life support through 2024.
Atherton Research Insights
Google’s retreat from the tablet market will be hard to swallow for the consumers and enterprises that have recently bought the expensive Pixel Slate.
So, here are a few recommendations to consider in your Android tablet-buying decision-making process that we have recently shared with our clients:
- Overall, Google has a poor track record in hardware—suffering from ADHD when it comes to deciding which projects (hardware, software or services) to keep or kill—so you should think twice before purchasing a hardware product from the Mountain View company, especially the state of the art if you plan on keeping it for many years
- The Android operating system is not adapted for tablet use and Google should follow Apple’s steps in launching a tablet-specific Android version while providing better app integration between ChromeOS and Android if the company is really serious about staying in the tablet market
- The decision to quit the tablet market doesn’t bode well for the life expectancy of Google’s other hardware initiatives including its line of laptops (Pixelbook) and even its Pixel phones that haven’t made a dent in the smartphone market
- Finally, if you still want an Android tablet, Samsung, Acer, Asus or Huawei are the most common alternatives