Just over three weeks before Google's I/O developer conference returns after a complete cancellation in 2020, Sundar Pichai, Alphabet, and Google's CEO used prepared remarks in a quarterly earnings call to illustrate a few exciting developments going on at Google right now. Google's huge year-over-year increase as ad investment leveled off and returned to normal was covered during the 45-minute call, as were several other highlights including YouTube Shorts views increasing by over 100 percent. However, Pichai's early remarks in the call piqued curiosity, as he said flatly that we should expect "big product changes and announcements" at Google I/O 2021.

Our product releases are returning to a regular cadence. Particularly excited that our developer event – Google I/O – is back this year, all virtual, and free for everyone on May 18th – 20th. We’ll have significant product updates and announcements, and I invite you all to tune in. _ Sundar Pichai – Alphabet & Google CEO

Being an earnings call to investors, part of the job is to show why revenue is up and also show why it should keep moving in that direction. So, with that in mind, it is probably a good idea to take this small statement with a grain of salt. Google has some good hardware in the pipeline and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am for the Pixel 6 with Google’s custom silicon inside, but if things are in fact returning to a regular cadence as Pichai stated, I think expecting this phone or its custom GS101 chip to get highlighted at Google I/O in 3 weeks is not realistic.

The Pixel 5a, on the other hand, is the only real commodity we know of that will be ready for I/O, and it won't be important in several respects. In reality, it seems to be a bit strange and out of place in comparison to the latest Pixel phone lineup. So, what is it that Pichai is alluding to? What new items could be unveiled at I/O?

With Google's penchant for leaking information, it's difficult for me to believe that something significant is on the horizon. This autumn? And, of course. So what about in three weeks? I just don't think it'll happen. Instead, we should fantasize about hypothetical situations in which Google has been quietly developing experimental hardware while keeping the public in the dark.

A new Pixelbook

With ‘Lindar's lightbar and ‘Halvor's Assistant Key specifically, we've had a few gadgets in the works that might be some kind of Google-made Chromebook. Neither of those products seems to be ready for release, but they may be released at any time. There was a notorious year in 2013 that Google gave the Chromebook Pixel to every Google I/O attendee, and they've traditionally made major Chrome OS updates at the annual gathering, so there's always the possibility that we Chromies will get some new hardware news in a few weeks. It's just not a possible scenario in my opinion.

Google Home Products

With the latest arrival of the Nest Audio and the elimination of the Google Home Max from Google's shop, there's a possibility we'll see a new, bigger Nest speaker. However, with the latest Nest Hub having just been launched, it seems like a strange time to do so. After all, if you were going to announce a new product in the same family within weeks of another, wouldn't you just combine them? I could also point out that no information about a forthcoming Nest device has leaked, so don't hold your breath on this one.

Phone Announcements

The Pixel 5a is expected to be announced, but it is hardly ‘significant.' What will be interesting, though, is any official information about what the Pixel 6 will be getting. They should tease it a little and then offer developers some concrete information about how to take better advantage of Google's in-house SoC. They wouldn't have to show off the phone, but they could tease out a few specifics about success and other goals they're pursuing by targeting Android from a vertically integrated perspective. Again, I have a feeling this won't happen, but I can still hope, right?

Other than these options, there might be other things to reveal that we are actually unaware of at this time. Since Google is such a large organization, there's a risk that untracked home automation or IoT products will turn up at the meeting. However, it's crucial to keep in mind who this event is about. I/O is mostly a developer conference, with the aim of highlighting all of the innovative technologies hardware and software can do to improve people's lives. With that in mind, I believe that the major product launches will include hardware and applications that developers are already using to make a living. Nest, Android, and Chrome OS are all examples of this. So, I guess we'll just have to wait to see what happens in just over three weeks.


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