The Android tablet died a long time ago — although some manufacturers keep trying to make it happen. Even Google stopped making tablets until we saw them release the Pixel Slate last year. This one though ran Chrome OS with the ability to run Android apps. Now it looks like Google are stopping production of all tablets, Android, Chrome OS or otherwise.
The Pixel Slate was seemingly priced beyond what most people wanted to pay for a detachable Chromebook and along with that it was beset with a number of bugs and issues resulting in apparent poor sales. Computerworld has reported that Google has scrapped the two tablets it had in development instead focusing on the laptop form factor instead.
Of course this report, and acknowledged by Computerworld itself, is ambiguous in itself. What is Google’s definition of a tablet? Does it consider the Pixel Slate a tablet? Apparently Google’s definition of a tablet is a “device that detaches completely from a keyboard base or doesn’t even have a physical keyboard in the first place”. If true the Pixel Slate is considered a tablet but the Pixelbook a laptop — convertible laptops are still laptops funnily enough.
A Google spokesperson confirmed these details to Computerworld with many of the engineers working on the tablets already being moved into the laptop section.
The two new tablets that have been scrapped were not very long in their development and it is not unusual for companies to begin development of products only to scrap them before they see the light of day. The salient point though is that apparently Google will no longer be in the tablet market — it will continue to support the Pixel Slate though. This was confirmed by Google’s SVP of Devices and Services Rick Osterloh not long ago:
Hey, it's true…Google's HARDWARE team will be solely focused on building laptops moving forward, 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)
— Rick Osterloh (@rosterloh) June 20, 2019
This doesn’t stop other manufacturers from making their own Chrome OS tablets especially given the emphasis on ‘hardware’ by Rick Osterloh and the confirmation Computerworld received. Google will most likely continue to work on the work on the tablet form factor on the software side but will just be making any of their own in the foreseeable future.
It seems we are back to the status quo from prior the Pixel Slate introduction — tablets are out, laptops are in.
This doesn’t mean Android is done with tablets. Android Q will of course still support the tablet form factor among others.
Android and Chrome OS platforms continue to invest across many form factors including laptops, tablets, convertibles, foldables, etc. Excited to see what @rosterloh's team does next, and equally excited to see what our other partners do across the full range of products!
— Hiroshi Lockheimer (@lockheimer) June 20, 2019