Google is just letting the Pixelbook rot

With no hardware refresh planned for 2022, is Google giving up on making its own Chromebooks?

Google Pixelbook 2017 with stylus

Google has a tendency to show up, innovate, and then abandon its products/services rather quickly.

There’s an entire site, Killed by Google, that’s dedicated to documenting all of Google’s dead projects. Even Stadia, Google’s once-promising cloud gaming service, could be heading to the graveyard, after years of failing to measure up to Microsoft’s xCloud and Nvidia’s GeForce Now.

But software is one thing. Hardware is another, and Google has let its premiere Chromebook, the Pixelbook, rot without a hardware refresh since 2019’s Pixelbook Go.

The 2-in-1 feature was abandoned with the Pixelbook Go. Google

Left for dead — Not counting the original Cr-48 reference design Chromebook, Google has released a total of four Chrome OS-powered laptops. There was the original 2013 Chromebook Pixel and 2015 Pixel 2 (not to be confused with the phones that are named Pixel). Then the 2-in-1 Pixelbook in 2017, and in 2019, the Pixelbook Go.

The pattern for a refresh seemed to be every two years. This year’s Pixel 6 event came and went with no word of a new Pixelbook. And according to a recent comment made at Qualcomm’s conference by Chrys Tsolaki, Google’s retail partner manager for Chromebooks, there won’t be a Pixelbook in 2022, either.

When asked whether Google was working on a new Pixelbook, Tsolaki said “Next year [2022] there won’t be anything coming. In the future, I don’t know.” It’s not exactly an official statement, but it’s bleak if you’ve been holding out for a new Pixelbook.

Beloved — Here’s the thing, though: Pixelbooks still hold up. There are many fans out there who have a lot of love for the four-year-old Pixelbook. While not exactly bursting with daily activity, the r/PixelBook subreddit has its share of vocal members. In a recent post, one user asked whether they should buy a Pixelbook — comment after comment praised the 2017 Pixelbook, with many mentioning it’s still working great all these years later. Apart from MacBooks and Surface Laptops, it’s not often users are this passionate about a laptop.

The 2017 Pixelbook is still fetching a high price on eBay four years after launch. Google

I count myself as one of those fans. I’ve owned the 2017 Pixelbook since 2018. I still use it because the multiple updates it has received over the years have kept it in tip top shape. The huge bezels have not aged well; they were dated at launch, too. But the materials still hold up and the core features (keyboard, trackpad, touchscreen) all function well. Also, ever since Google added Android app support to Chromebooks, you can do a lot more things than before, such as photo/video editing and gaming. It’s simply gotten better since launch.

Past its prime — On the other hand, as much as I like it and have enjoyed my time, the 2017 Pixelbook is an aging device with specs that are slowly beginning to drop off. The laptop isn’t as snappy as it used to be. It’s also got an expiration date. Google will stop supporting the device in June of 2024. But that hasn’t stopped buyers from spending up to $500 or $600, depending on the model, to buy one of these laptops. Just this month, there have been dozens of sales on eBay. Clearly, there’s demand for Pixelbooks.

My only hope is that Google isn’t abandoning its Pixelbooks, but is waiting for something — maybe a more powerful Tensor chip — to revive the Pixelbook. While not speaking on its laptops, Sundar Pichai knows firsthand that “hardware is hard.” Weak sales for the Pixelbooks aren’t helping make it a priority, either. And so the Pixelbook rots.