Google confirmed that it not only cancelled two tablets it was working on, but also the fact that it won't be working on any tablets going forward. Essentially saying that it has given up on tablets. But it is still going to support its partners that are still making Android tablets – like Samsung and Huawei – which is still important.
This should surprise no one. Google has had almost a decade to get the tablet right, and it is still failing. And with smartphones getting bigger and bigger, no one is going to miss an Android tablet, seeing as their phone is basically an Android tablet at this point.
In the beginning, Google's Nexus tablets were pretty decent
In 2012, many might remember the first big splash that Google made, when it came to tablets. The Nexus 7. It was a 7-inch tablet, made by ASUS with pretty high-end specs, and a $199 price tag. Which was incredible Obviously, many of us did not have high expectations for that tablet, considering it was just $199, and the iPad from Apple was over $500. But it was a pretty good tablet.
Many liked the Nexus 7 because of its size. It was a 7-inch tablet that you could actually use with one hand. It was great for reading ebooks, browsing the web and even doing some game playing, since it was powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 3. But the big issue was, the software. Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, which is what the Nexus 7 launched with, was okay, but when it came to tablets, it wasn't so great. It didn't really adjust for tablets. So it was like using a much larger smartphone.
On top of that, there really weren't any tablet-optimized apps on the market. Which was unfortunate, because using an app that's meant for a 5-inch screen, on a 7-inch screen, isn't fun. Google tried all kinds of things to entice developers, but it never really worked out.
The Nexus 7 (2013) and Nexus 10 that came out after it, were also pretty popular. Again because they were pretty well-made and also fairly cheap. But that was basically the end for Google, when it came to tablets.
The next round of tablets were worse than anyone could have expected
After the Nexus 7's and Nexus 10 tablets, Google tapped HTC in 2014 to make the Nexus 9. It was a 9-inch tablet, which was new for Google, and also sported a 4:3 aspect ratio instead of a 16:10 ratio. And it had nothing but problems. HTC didn't really have much experience making tablets, let alone good tablets. So this didn't come as much of a surprise. But it was so bad that, many reviewers had to recommend not getting the Nexus 9.
Then came the Pixel C. It launched the following year running Android. But here's the kicker, it wasn't supposed to run Android. That right there basically tells you everything you need to know. The Pixel C was originally meant to be the first tablet running Chrome OS. But Google ran into many problems with the device in development, and opted to just slap Android on it, and sell it as is. Bad idea.
These two tablets were much worse than the trio of tablets that came before them, from Google. And it only got worse from there.
The Pixel Slate was hot garbage
The last tablet Google will ever make, the Pixel Slate, was infamous. It was infamous for being hilariously bad. We, here at AndroidHeadlines, never actually got a chance to review the device. But we did play with it at the launch event last October. It didn't seem to bad there, but then again those events do have controlled environments, so it was a bit different when users got the devices in their hands. Our founder actually was given one for Christmas, and he promptly returned it, because of how terrible it was.
The big problem for the Pixel Slate was the performance. Even on its highest-end option with an Intel Core i7 chipset, it was struggling. And it shouldn't be. I mean, this thing runs on Chrome OS, an operating system that can run on a dual-core Celeron processor with no issues. It was also a lot more expensive than it should have been, which did not help Google at all.
So as you can see, Google went from making killer tablets to making tablets kill themselves. Somehow, each tablet it made after the initial three, was worse than the previous one. So Google cancelling its current tablet ambitions, is not a surprise.
Smartphones really killed off tablets
Once smartphones really got past the 5.5-inch mark and started venturing out into the 6-inch and now almost 7-inch area, tablets really started to die. Not just from Google, but from all the manufacturers. Samsung started making less tablets, Huawei is making less tablets, but somehow Amazon's tablets are still going strong. This is likely because of how cheap they are.
But why did the smartphone kill tablets? The display size. When you have a smartphone that has a 6-inch or larger display, what's the point of having a tablet that is barely any larger than that? For most people, there wasn't a reason for it. And thus tablet sales plummeted quite a bit. There are only two tablet brands that are actually selling right now: Amazon and Apple.
Google also helped to kill off tablets, by half-baking the ones it did sell, and never really optimizing Android for these larger screens. But now it looks like that's never going to happen. If you are in the minority that wants a tablet, it looks like you're going to have to get an Amazon Fire Tablet or an iPad.
Tablets never really took off, because they didn't differentiate from smartphones really, at all. Meanwhile, Apple's tablets have sold really well because it's more than just a larger iPhone. It's a more powerful computing device with hundreds of thousands of apps that are actually optimized for the tablets. One can't help but wonder if Google had gotten developers to work on tablet-optimized apps, if tablets would have been more popular. We'll never know, now.
Tablets, you've been slowly dying off over the past five years, and Google is finally putting a fork in you. It's not unexpected, but it is unfortunate. While Google is giving up on tablets, it is going to be keeping its 2-in-1 laptops like the Pixelbook around. So it's not entire done with tablets, but it mostly is.