Google Reorg Puts Android, Chrome, Photos and More Under Leadership of Devices Team

David Pierce, writing for The Verge:

Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced substantial internal reorganizations on Thursday, including the creation of a new team called “Platforms and Devices” that will oversee all of Google’s Pixel products, all of Android, Chrome, ChromeOS, Photos, and more. The team will be run by Rick Osterloh, who was previously the SVP of devices and services, overseeing all of Google’s hardware efforts. Hiroshi Lockheimer, the longtime head of Android, Chrome, and ChromeOS, will be taking on other projects inside of Google and Alphabet.

This is a huge change for Google, and it likely won’t be the last one. There’s only one reason for all of it, Osterloh says: AI. “This is not a secret, right?” he says. Consolidating teams “helps us to be able to do full-stack innovation when that’s necessary,” Osterloh says.

I’m sure this is about AI, but I think it’s also about getting the company’s shit together and forming a cohesive strategy for integration with their consumer devices. Lost amid the schadenfreude surrounding the near-universal panning of Humane’s AI Pin is the question of, well, what are the device form factors we need for AI-driven features? I would argue, strenuously, that the phone is the natural AI device. It already has: always-on networking, cameras, a screen, microphones, and speakers. Everyone owns one and almost everyone takes theirs with them almost everywhere they go.

Putting all of Android under a new division led by the guy in charge of Pixel devices since 2016 says to me that Google sees AI not primarily as a way to make Android better, in general, but to make Pixel devices better, specifically. Best-of-class AI, only on Pixels, could be the sort of differentiation that actually results in Pixels gaining traction.

Thursday, 18 April 2024