Google Taps Amazon’s David Foster To Make Smartphones Great Again

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Google is no stranger to smartphones, given that its Nexus line has been tantalizing Android enthusiasts for half a decade. However, Google for the most part hasn’t taken a hands-on approach to its Nexus line, instead allowing OEM partners to take over the bulk of the heavy lifting (that will change with the unveiling of Pixel and Pixel XL later today). In addition, Nexus devices haven’t exactly been breakout sales successes in the way that we’ve seen with smartphones like Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy family.

Google is looking to change its approach to smartphones, and it has tapped a former Amazon exec with an esteemed resume to lead it in the right direction. According to a new report from The Information, David Foster will become Google’s vice president of product engineering, and will be reporting to Google’s Rick Osterloh.  Foster will be tasked with building out Google’s smartphone portfolio and getting those devices into the hands of more customers around the globe.

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Foster had a six-year stint at Apple and spent time at Microsoft as a general manager for hardware (he had a hand in the development ill-fated Zune HD). More recently, he worked in Amazon’s Lab126 hardware division where he served as vice president of engineering, overseeing products like the Kindle Fire, Fire TV family of products and the hot-selling Echo.

Over his career, Foster been involved with plenty of success, but also some pretty epic failures (Zune HD, Amazon Fire phone). But his wealth of experience and the ability to bounce back from high-profile misses will be highly beneficial to Google, which is increasingly becoming more interested in hardware.

In addition to the Pixel and Pixel XL, Google is also expected today to announce new Wi-Fi routers, the production version of its Google Home speaker/digital assistant, new Chromecast devices and a new hybrid Android/Chrome OS computing platform developed under the codename Andromeda.