Google Makes Hardware a Second-Class Citizen, Several Devices Now in Doubt

Ruben Fields
March 14, 2019

Employees asked to transfer in the past two weeks include hardware engineers, technical program managers, and program manager supporters. On the tablet side, however, things might get a bit messy since Google Pixel Slate didn't receive all the love even from enthusiasts.

As for its software teams and Chrome OS in particular, none of those employees seem to have been affected by this move. Google hasn't had much success with most of its hardware offerings, and a recent report from Business Insider indicates that this is unlikely to change in the short term future too.

However, with Google allegedly abstaining from outright laying off employees or eliminating their positions, Google seems to be erring on the side of caution while still giving itself the chance to re-up its investment in hardware at a later date. This team reportedly had a "bunch of stuff in the works", meaning it's likely that several hardware projects in development have been shelved as a result.

Today, the Create division is responsible for the Pixelbook laptop and Pixel Slate tablet amongst the company's wider swath of "Made by Google" products.

By asking employees to seek temporary, rather than permanent, new roles, Google may be leaving itself flexibility to boost staffing on the Create hardware team in the future.

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As Business Insider reports, this "roadmap pushout" now raises questions about the extent of Google's commitment to building its own line of laptops and tablets. The company launched its Pixel Slate - a tablet that acts like a laptop, meant to compete with Microsoft's Surface Pro and Apple's iPad Pro - to a similar, cold reception.

Back in May 2016, Google first announced that it would be releasing updates to Chrome OS that would allow Android apps on Chromebook.

Following the Pixel C came the Pixelbook, which was widely regarded as one of the best, most luxurious Chromebooks ever made.

The move comes after the group received pressure to turn Google Hardware into "a real business" from higher-ups at Google/Alphabet.

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