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This article was published on February 1, 2021


Google punches itself in the face by discontinuing the Pixel Slate

Someone grab the frozen peas

Google punches itself in the face by discontinuing the Pixel Slate
Callum Booth
Story by

Callum Booth

Editor of Plugged by TNW

Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He w Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He writes about gear, gadgets, and apps — with a particular focus on Apple — and also makes the occasional odd video. Basically, he's halfway between an abrasive gadget nerd and thinky art boy.

Imagine, if you will, a runner five miles into a marathon. At this stage they would have barely started, covering just 20% of the overall distance. Now picture that person stopping mid-stride and punching themselves in the face over and over again until they cascade into unconsciousness.

That runner, friends, is Google.

To sprinkle some context on the tale of self-pugilation: Google has discontinued its flagship tablet, the Pixel Slate. 9to5 Google noticed the tablet — which was launched in 2018 — was no longer listed on the company’s website. The Pixel Slate is dead.

Google discontinuing a product or service isn’t much of a surprise, I mean, there are websites solely dedicated to keeping track of all the things the company has prematurely shuttered.

But the Pixel Slate is a big loss, both to Google and the public at large.

[Read: How Netflix shapes mainstream culture, explained by data]

Google Pixel Slate
Rest well, sweet Pixel Slate — we hardly knew thee.

Before we go on, a short disclaimer.

We’ve reached out to Google for a comment and more clarification, but we’re working under the assumption that the company has shifted completely out of selling tablets, rather than readying for a next model. Not only has it half-announced this, the decision is also backed by logic: why would Google remove all traces of the hardware from its site if it was planning to launch something else?

In other words, Google’s tablet aspirations are dead.

But why are you a sadboy about the Pixel Slate?

Simply put, it’s because Google had the potential to make a fantastic, competitive, and affordable machine.

Over the past year, I got bang into tablets again — something I attribute to my time with iPad Pro. Long story short, I now get what tablets are for. I understand their value. And, alongside that, I recognize the importance of competition.

The iPad has long been the dominant tablet across the world and there’s little that’s truly challenging it. Yes, the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Amazon Fire HD are popular and solid devices, but they can’t really match Apple when it comes to quality, usability, and interoperability

But I believe Google could.

Let’s take its Pixel phones as an example. I’ve written before that the company found its sweet spot with the budget-focused “a” series of handsets. These thrive by eschewing the idea of competing as a premium brand — instead making affordable devices that use the cleanest version of Android and perform seamlessly as part of the overall Google ecosystem. In fact, the company seems to have taken this onboard, as with the Pixel 5 it actually removed some features the previous model had, as well as dropping the price.

And you know what? It was one of the best phones of 2020.

google pixel 5
The delicious Pixel 5.

This is the approach I would’ve loved Google to take with the Pixel Slate. The original tablet wasn’t perfect — far from it, in fact. Although it was a gorgeous machine, it was overpriced compared to its competitors and it wasn’t entirely clear who it was aimed at.

But these are easy issues to solve in today’s world.

Considering the past year has seen tablet sales soar and Google shift millions of Chromebooks, now should be the ideal time for the company to release a new and cheaper Pixel Slate.

Imagine it: an affordable machine that can be used for work and leisure. Something that could be combined with the Pixelbook Pen making for easy note taking. All your work and details seamlessly synced across your Google accounts. Mmm, I’m getting fuzzy just thinking about it.

Honestly, there’s probably a good reason why Google has discontinued the Pixel Slate. Maybe it’s putting all its focus on the Pixelbook Go? Maybe sales were bad? But it was early days for the Pixel Slate, it had only just started racing against its competitors.

I struggle to see a world in which a more affordable Pixel Slate wouldn’t kill it — and this leads me to one conclusion: by totally discontinuing the tablet, Google has punched itself in the face.

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