In short: Google may end up missing its self-imposed release window for the Pixel Slate, its first Chrome OS tablet announced earlier today. While the company said the device will start shipping “later this year,” it also confirmed it has yet to even submit it for certification with the Federal Communications Commission. As the regulator typically responds to approval requests within two to three months, the Pixel Slate is already in danger of being delayed. Google has yet to clarify when it intends to submit the gadget for certification but it hasn’t done so as of today, according to the FCC’s certification database reviewed by AndroidHeadlines. The tech giant went as far as to attach a disclaimer to its Pixel Slate announcement that states the tablet “may not be” leased, sold, or otherwise distributed before being authorized by the telecom regulator.
Background: While Google is generally careful when approaching government agencies for product certification so as to avoid premature leaks from public sources (not that those would have mattered this year), publication deferment requests are a common practice in the industry and something virtually all electronics manufacturers rely on while submitting their devices for certification prior to their official announcements, with the average confidentiality request asking for a six-month delay in publication of external and internal device photographs, as well as some other product details. It’s hence unclear what prompted Google to avoid doing so, especially given how it had no issues with submitting the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL for early certification this summer, a month and a half prior to their official announcement.
Impact: The lack of FCC certification implies Google made some last-minute changes to the Pixel Slate hardware or was finalizing its spec sheet until the very last moment, particularly in regards to the innards designed for telecommunications, the only area of technology the FCC is truly interested in and that could significantly change the outcome of its tests (save for extreme cases of, say, unconventional coating that could mess with Wi-Fi and other signals). This theory is given more credence by the fact that Google recently wrote to the FCC about an unpublicized equipment change revolving around the Fibocom L850-GL, an LTE Category 9 modem that was assumed to have been envisioned as part of one of the tech giant’s future Chrome OS devices. As the Pixel Slate doesn’t support cellular connectivity, that may have been a feature Google was still considering immediately prior to its launch, hence deciding against submitting it for certification in advance. Regardless, the company’s only remaining course of action that would certainly allow it to stick with its promised 2018 release timeline would be to hire one of FCC-approved telecommunication certification bodies (TCBs), which could theoretically obtain the necessary regulatory approval for commercializing its first Chrome OS tablet in under two weeks.