We’ve known this for some time now as a rumor, but the Android Open Source Project has just confirmed the codenames of the three Google Pixel 2 smartphones that are slated for release later this year. Spotted by Android Police in an AOSP gerrit (Gerrit is a collaborative code review tool developed by Google’s Shawn Pearce) that contained the following:
Building 12 configured target(s): aosp-master/aosp_arm64-eng aosp-master/aosp_x86-eng git_master/aosp_muskie-userdebug git_master/aosp_walleye-userdebug git_master/bullhead-userdebug_fastbuild3a_linux git_master/gce_x86_phone-userdebug_fastbuild3c_linux git_master/marlin-userdebug git_master/muskie-userdebug git_master/sailfish-userdebug git_master/sailfish-userdebug_fastbuild3_linux git_master/taimen-userdebug git_master/walleye-userdebug.
What’s interesting is not the fact that all three codenames are found in the above text, but the fact that the biggest one – codenamed Taimen – is rumored to be much bigger than either of the other two Google Pixel 2 smartphones.
In an earlier article, we argued the validity of a smartphone being too much larger than 6 inches (diagonal). We still say over 6 inches is too big, but Samsung made it work (we hope) with the Galaxy S8 Plus, which has a 6.2-inch display but in a smaller profile because of the very slim bezels.
The other possibility is that Taimen is not even a phone, but a tablet. The Pixel C is a great tablet but it was doomed to fail at the price point that it carried when it launched almost a year and a half ago, in December 2015. And yet, Google is keeping it alive, recently pushing an Android 7.1.2 Nougat update to Pixel C devices. More to the point, the update brings a lot of smartphone UI elements to the Pixel C. Could this be a further clue?
If Taimen is, in fact, a tablet rather than a smartphone or a phablet, the codename makes perfect sense. The first two are called walleye and muskie. The average weight of an adult walleye is about 11kgs, and muskies grow to weigh about 17kgs. That matches the size difference we saw with the Google Pixel and the Pixel XL, and it would make sense for Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL as well. But Taimen is a big fish that can weigh upto 30kgs – almost double the weight of a muskie.
That logically implies that the Google Pixel 2 known as Taimen might be a tablet, after all. But is it another device along the lines of the Pixel C?
In a TechCrunch report from earlier this year, Rick Osterloh, Google’s Senior VP for Hardware, said this: “Google hasn’t backed away from laptops. We have the number two market share in the U.S. and U.K., but we have no plans for Google-branded laptops.”
This was on February 28, 2017. But then, a few days later, on March 2, Osterloh posted this on Twitter:
Hey all, Google’s own Chromebooks aren’t “dead” as has been reported. They will live on, we just have *no plans to share at this time* 😉
— Rick Osterloh (@rosterloh) March 2, 2017
Osterloh initially said no laptops, but he said no google-branded laptops, which was taken to mean “no Chromebooks bearing the Google brand.” That’s what he clarified a few days later in his tweet when he said Chromebooks aren’t dead. It’s possible that Osterloh wasn’t referring to a Pixel 3 at all, but a different category of device that’s very hush hush at the moment.
So there’s definitely something going on here that nobody outside Google knows about. Could it be possible that Google is building a phone/tablet hybrid that works like a phone to leverage the massive body of Android apps, but runs on a hybrid operating system that brings desktop elements from Chrome OS to the table? Er…tablet?
We don’t think that’s too far off the mark. There’s really no point in Google making another 2-in-1 hybrid or a laptop when the Surface Pro 4 and the upcoming Surface Pro 5 are already well-positioned in the space and eating market share from traditional laptop makers. And the argument for a really large smartphone is even weaker.
The only creation that could possibly have an edge over Microsoft’s Surface line as well as Apple’s MacBook Pro 2017 is a revolutionary device like the one we’ve described.
If Google can pull it off before Microsoft comes out with the Surface Phone, which is expected to have similar x86 emulation capability, that will be the coup of the decade. The Google Pixel 2 Taimen will be the first device in the world to truly merge the smartphone experience with the desktop experience.
Or are we just putting the pieces together all wrong and dreaming an impossible dream?
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