30
Jan
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Fans of Google in general and Android in particular are still reeling from yesterday's announcement that Motorola is being sold to Lenovo. Google acquired Moto just two years ago, and while its time within Google has been beneficial, it's clearly not going to become the official mobile hardware arm that many had hoped for. But there's no reason to think that the big G is out of the hardware game altogether - in fact, at least one report says that another recent acquisition may be accelerating it.

matt_larry_tony

Left to right: Nest VP of Engineering Matt Rogers, Google CEO Larry Page, Nest CEO Tony Fadell.

Unnamed sources tell TechCrunch that former Nest CEO Tony Fadell and his team will become the primary hardware group within Google. As you probably know, Nest was purchased by Google earlier this month for $3.2 billion - about 10% more than Motorola mobility was just sold for. According to the report, Fadell and his team of engineers and designers will expand their workload beyond Nest's thermostat and smoke detector niches, presumably lending their talents to whatever hardware products might need them.

Keep in mind that even without Motorola, Google is still pushing into hardware on multiple fronts. There's the Nexus program, where Google co-develops new phones and tablets with the help of major manufacturers. There's Google Chromecast, Google Glass, and one-off hardware like the Chromebook Pixel. Google is pushing into the home cable market in select cities in the US, and new ventures like Google's robotics initiative and self-driving cars could benefit from experienced hardware engineers and interaction designers. And then there's Motorola's own Advanced Technology And Projects Group, currently working on the modular Ara concept. TechChrunch's report was careful to avoid definitive statements about what the Nest team will be doing beyond their current workload, but it's easy to see how any or all of these projects could be part of the picture for the Nest hires.

Fadell and a portion of his team are former Apple employees, as is so often mentioned when talking about Nest. Say what you will about their former digs, but Nest's surprising success for such a young product and company (no doubt spurred on at least in part by the Apple cachet) indicates that this small team knows what they're doing.

TechCrunch's report does not name a solid source, so at the moment it's best to think of it as a promising rumor. At the very least, it should help assuage fears that Motorola's departure will mean that Google loses focus on hardware.

Source: TechCrunch, photo credit: Nest Blog

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • Egnimatic_Foolishness

    That's something I hadn't considered yet. Lots of the problems that Google has had with their hardware is being great on ideas but short on execution. With their experience owning Motorola and then adding the Nest team, they should be much more polished when it comes to putting out hardware in the future. Regardless if it's phones, Google glass or whatever.

    • Wyatt Neal

      I would definitely agree. A lot of Google products really feel like they've had that cold engineering flair - hard edges, full of knobs and whistles - which I personally love, but they could definitely benefit having the minimalist approach help balance that out.

  • bmaz

    They should also make Nest marketing guys the chief marketing guys as well.
    Google sucks at naming and marketing their products.

    Actually use them on their software as well, Gmail looks abysmal and it should have direct integration with Calendar.

  • Chris

    I know that you mentioned the Nexus lineup in your post, and this might only be a rumor but.. Isn't Google supposedly killing off the Nexus brand starting 2015?

    Well, I really hope they don't. Now that Motorola is soon to be a Lenovo company, I really hope Google starts to push their Nexus lineup even more.

    Buying an Android phone from Google has made the experience amazing and when I heard Google was cutting off the Nexus device, I had hopes that this trend would be passed onto Motorola. But since now that's not happening, all I can hope for now is that Google retains the Nexus brand.

    What a sad week for Android fans.

    • David Hart

      I'm not calling you out on that rumor, but do you have any sources? Like a (possibly) informed article?

      • Chris

        Personally, I don't have sources aside from the one leaked by Eldar Murtazin. With it being a rumor, I'll take it with a grain of salt.

        https://www.google.com/#q=Nexus+5+2015

      • anzensepp1987

        Only Eldar Murtazin twittered about it. And until anybody sais anything officially, we shouldn't give a damn about that "information".

        • David Hart

          Hmm I just read his tweet

          "Nexus line by Google is over in 2015 ;) Yes - This line will be replaced by Play Edition (current name, it will be rebranded)

          That makes me feel like they're doing it to create buzz, and so they don't have to name the next lineup confusingly i.e Nexus 7 2012/2013

        • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

          Who the fuck is Eldar Murtazin and why should anybody care about his opinion?

          • Barbara J. Kuester

            til&nbspI&nbspsaw&nbspthe&nbspdraft&nbspthat&nbspsaid&nbsp$­­­­­­­9793,&nbspI&nbspbe&nbspcertain&nbspthat&nbspmy&nbspfather&nbspin&nbsplaw&nbspwas&nbsplike&nbspthey&nbspsay&nbspactually&nbsperning&nbspmoney&nbsppart&nbsptime&nbspat&nbsptheir&nbspl­­­­­­а­­­­­­ρ­­­­­­τ­­­­­­ο­­­­­­ρ..&nbsptհ­­­­­­е­­­­­­r­­­­­­е&nbspbrothers&nbspfriend&nbsphas&nbspdone&nbspthis&nbspfor&nbsponly&nbsp12&nbspΜ­­­­­­ο­­­­­­ո­­­­­­τ­­­­­­հ­­­­­­ѕ&nbspand&nbsprecently&nbsppaid&nbspthe&nbsploans&nbspon&nbsptհ­­­­­­е­­­­­­r­­­­­­е&nbspcondo&nbspand&nbsppurchased&nbspa&nbspgreat&nbspInfiniti.&nbspI&nbspwent&nbspհ­­­­­­е­­­­­­r­­­­­­е,...&nbspWW&#87&#46Googleprojects2014auditionj5l2e2iw&#x2E&#113r&#46&#110&#x65&#x74&#47&#109&#87&#113&#x5A/

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  • mustbepbs

    Don't worry, Nest. They're just going to chew you up and spit you out after they took you for all you're worth.

  • moelsen8

    booooo. give us time to grieve, damnit.

  • jpalmer

    "Say what you will about their former digs" Okay, I will. It was like being in a blender, half full of marbles, under a searing spotlight, set to frappe. Great people, though.

  • br_hermon

    So here's how I see this, PERHAPS, playing out. Just like playing in Vegas, everything is a gamble. Google is quitting while it's ahead, standing up and walking away from the table that is Motorola.

    They rode the wave, heck, they generated the wave of popularity in smartphones. They and Apple, took smartphones and consumer market penetration to whole new levels. But now Google sees the signs. There's growing discomfort from OEMs about their ownership of Moto. Samsung may be only the first of many wanting to fork and go it alone. Google's open-source business strategy was perhaps at it's frailest. So it strikes a deal with Samsung to smooth things over and sells Moto in the process to appease not only them but all other OEMs.

    Meanwhile the smartphone market is booming but potentially only a couple years out from total saturation. Everybody is trying their hand at smartphones now. Prices are starting to drop. Maybe, just maybe, Google saw that the smartphone boom has peaked.

    Coupling those two factors along with all sorts of tiring litigation, maybe Google has said "You know what, we have to stay ahead of the curve. It's time to seriously look into other areas besides smartphones." That's where Nest comes into play. Think about what Larry Page just was quoted as saying, "We’re excited by the opportunities to build amazing new products for users within these emerging ecosystems (wearable and home markets)." With Android the success that it is, now Google shifts focus to other ecosystems to continue collecting user data (because let's be real, that's what this is all about). Google X, Thermostats, home automation, wearables, TV, the auto industry, the education industry; Google is going to enter all those ecosystems the same way it did the cell phone industry, by introducing software to the pre-existing hardware to better the experience and gain valuable user data in the process.

    Google will still have a heavily vested interest in the success of Android as a mobile OS. I don't believe they're going to abandon the mobile market. They're simply changing the method of their involvment in hopes to actually improve Android's mobile presence and the quality of the experience. Now of course this is all speculative right now but... when you add everything together it sure seems to make sense.

    • http://www.LOVEanon.org/ Michael Oghia (Ogie)

      Wow man! That's actually quite possible... any rebuttals?

  • fzammetti

    I'm sure someone will jump in and tell me why I'm so very wrong, but $3.2 billion for some thermostats and smoke detectors? Hey, don't get me wrong, they look nice enough and do I realize they have some interesting features... but at the end of the day they are things that adjust temperature and beep when there's smoke and it's not like their design is SO Earth-shatteringly amazing that the team's talent is worth the price alone. I'm just not getting it apparently.

    • aiden9

      There were rumors of Apple buying them. Could see it being similar to Motorola where ultimately the goal was to keep the manufacturer out of a competitors hands while also snatching up some patents.

    • Mike Reid

      Many times companies and Internet posters talk about "buying teams".

      But for the most part, only top management makes any legal commitment to stay. Everybody else can leave whenever they want, though there may be stock option incentives to stay.

      So, IMO you can't really "buy a team". People are not property to be bought and sold. You can buy a company and maybe create incentives to stay.

      And the "peons" at the bottom of the pyramid usually don't get many stock options. I say this as a former "peon" who's had many companies bought while I was working for them.