Finally. Google made the announcement some of us have been anxiously awaiting ─ confirmation of the Pixel 2. The announcement came from Renée Niemi, Google's Director of the Android and Chrome Global Business Unit within Enterprise when she said the Pixel 2 is coming soon. However, Niemi added that the Pixel 2 is a development platform ─ a proof of concept, as it were.
I'm okay with that ─ to an extent. But I believe this is rather short sighted of Google on a very important level. There is a larger user-base for Pixels than Google assumes.
Think about it ─ Chromebooks are massively popular. Yes, part of that popularity is the incredibly low price tag. However, that does not mean the platform should be relegated to cheap, inexpensive, plasticky hardware. Chrome OS is a solid, viable platform and should enjoy a line of high-end hardware like the Pixel.
I have one. I am a huge fan of this particular machine. Why? Because it takes an incredibly simple and reliable ecosystem and places it in the heart of the single most elegant hardware ever made. The Pixel screen, keyboard, and touchpad are without rival. Period. End of story.
I don't want to speculate on what new twists and tweaks Google will bring to the Pixel platform. Instead, I want to focus on why the Pixel and Pixel 2 are relevant beyond developers.
To say the Pixel is primarily a developer platform is doing both Chrome OS and the incredible design of the hardware an injustice. That is not to say developers don't deserve the best hardware (they do, they work tirelessly). But think about this ─ the vast majority of Apple users pay a premium for hardware and most of those users don't take advantage of the OS X platform beyond that which can be had on Chrome OS. In other words ─ the average user has become a browser-based ecosystem. Yet, those Apple users still pay that premium for the devices. A 13" Apple Macbook Pro with Retina display will cost you $1299. And people eat those apples by the cart full ─ even though they won't make use of a large portion of the functionality. Why? Because of the brand and the well-designed (and long-lasting) hardware.
That is the very thing that drew me to the Pixel ─ the hardware. It's gorgeous and solid and has become my work horse for every novel I have written in the past year. It's been flawless and has become the only mobile device I want to work with ─ it's that good. Google did such a stellar job with the hardware that it has ruined all other devices for me. Nothing can compete. With a Pixel, you have a piece of hardware that will prevail over the rigors of mobility. The low-end Chromebook units don't instill such confidence.
This is what Google needs to keep in mind when releasing the Pixel 2. There is a user base for these devices. From developers, to business users, to writers, to average users looking for beautiful hardware. Consumers will consume if they have the chance. Take, for instance, this Google+ community (dedicated to the Chromebook Pixel) is nearly 3,000 users strong (many of which are not developers) and continues to grow daily. There are plenty more Pixel groups out there, which should show Google the device is relevant beyond developers. I've heard from many converts ─ users that have migrated from Macbook Pro/Air and X1 Carbon Thinkpads to Pixels and have never looked back. These are users who will open up their wallets as soon as the next iteration of the Pixel is made available.
I will be one of those users ready to buy. Will Google be able to provide?
At this point, many would ask, "Where are the numbers? How many of the original Pixels were sold?" Google is incredibly tight-lipped with regards to sales numbers. So finding that figure has been impossible. But the fact of the matter is, the Pixel must have sold well enough to warrant the creation of the second iteration (unless Google is just about showing love to developers ─ in which case, why bother selling the product to consumers?). That means the Pixel 2 will find its way to the Google Play Store and consumers can show Google just how much demand there is. I firmly believe Google will be surprised at the response of the Pixel 2. Anyone who purchased an original Pixel will want the Pixel 2. This will be especially pronounced with a faster, more battery-friendly chip on board (my only beef with the first Pixel was the battery life).
There is no questioning the validity of the Chrome OS platform. It is here to stay. And the massive amount of Chromebooks being sold clearly warrants the cheap hardware being offered by Acer, HP, Samsung, and ASUS. But not everyone wants to work, day in and day out, and cheap hardware. Some of us (and there are many) need better screens, keyboards, and trackpads. That is where the Pixel comes in ─ and the second iteration of what is, without a doubt, my all-time favorite piece of mobile hardware should improve on the original in ways that could easily win over the nay sayers.
The only issue I can see is this: Niemi insisted they will make very few Pixel 2s and 85% of those will be taken by their own developers. That does not bode well for us consumers. Will we even be able to get our hands on the second iteration of Google's flagship device? Let's hope so. Otherwise, when my Pixel dies, I might have to wind up purchasing a Macbook Pro and installing Ubuntu over OS X. When push comes to an inevitable shove, I'd rather give my dollars to Google than Apple.
What about you? Are you willing to fork over some $1,300.00 USD for the refresh of the Pixel? If not, what holds you back?
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.