Tech giant Google is finally making the jump from software to devices. The search platform’s parent company, Alphabet, is reportedly creating a new division within Google to design new hardware devices, and has hired former Motorola Mobility president Rick Osterloh to lead it.
According to his LinkedIn page, Osterloh is now "SVP Hardware at Google," reporting to Google CEO Sundar Pichai. The news represents something of a homecoming for Osterloh, who became part of the Google family when the company acquired Motorola in 2011. Google eventually sold the Mobility division to Lenovo in 2014, and Osterloh just left Motorola this month, according to his LinkedIn page, following Lenovo’s decision to reorganize the division.
Nexus, ATAP, Chromecast, and Chromebook
The creation of the hardware division will enable Google to consolidate its various hardware projects under a single organizational umbrella, as a report by Re/code noted. In particular, that will include Nexus, the company’s Android phone division, the streaming television device Chromecast, and other consumer devices such as Chromebook laptops and the Pixel C.
The new division will also take over Google’s Advanced Technologies and Projects (ATAP) lab. ATAP had previously been responsible for developing some of the company's more experimental projects such as Project Ara, its attempt to build modular mobile phones and Project Tango, its plan to build tools for creating 3D environments based on data captured via smartphones from users' surroundings. While some of these projects will now come under the company’s virtual reality division, the rest will be absorbed by Osterloh’s group.
The new hardware department will also be responsible for developing OnHub, Google’s wireless home router, and the much-maligned wearable tech platform Google Glass, according to Re/code's report.
An Expected Reorganization
The reorganization of the company’s hardware projects, particularly those being developed by ATAP, had been expected since the former head of the division, Regina Dugan, announced that she would be leaving the company to take on a similar role at Facebook.
ATAP was originally developed as part of Motorola, and had reported to Osterloh before the company was acquired by Google. Google kept the division after selling Motorola off, and Osterloh will now once again be in charge of the lab, Re/code noted.
Not all of Google’s hardware products will come under Osterloh’s authority, though. Virtual reality will continue to act as a separate unit and will absorb some of the projects that had been under development by ATAP. And X, formerly Google X, will continue to pursue other advanced technology applications, many of which will be hardware products, according to Re/code. Nevertheless, the creation of the new unit goes a long way to bringing most of Google’s hardware under a single roof for the first time.
Osterloh tweeted today, "Great first week @google - really great to be reunited with so many friends and colleagues."