Rick Osterloh is returning home, so to speak, to Google to head the company’s newly hatched hardware division. Osterloh originally arrived at Google by way of the search giant’s purchase of Motorola in 2011. While under the Google umbrella, Osterloh was promoted to CEO of Motorola, but was unceremoniously booted from Mountain View when Motorola was sold to Lenovo in 2014.
Osterloh left Motorola last month and is now back into the newly open arms of Google, which wants to get its house in order when it comes to hardware. Google is especially eager to get the ball rolling after losing Regina Duncan, who led Google’s Advanced Technologies and Project (ATAP) group, to Facebook. Google is consolidating a number of its hardware projects into a single division headed by Osterloh including Nexus devices (like the Nexus 5X, 6P and Player), Chromecast, consumer devices (Chromebook Pixel, Pixel C), OnHub wireless routers, ATAP, and Glass (which has been wandering around in the wilderness under the helm of Nest CEO Tony Fadell).
Interestingly enough, the Nest division still remains a separate company orbiting around Alphabet with Fadell controlling the reins. However, recent reports suggest that not all is well at Nest and that there is plenty of inner turmoil among the execs and vitriol being spread around. It might not be long before Nest too comes under the watchful eye of Osterloh…
For those that have been keeping tabs on Google’s movements in the past few months, this pivot to more centralized control of hardware was telegraphed earlier this year. A report from The Information in February suggested that Google was looking to take more of a leadership role in the design of future Nexus devices instead of farming out specifications to third-party companies like ASUS and Huawei to do all the heavy lifting. In essence, Google wants to become more Apple-like in its approach to its consumer products, taking over all aspects of hardware and software design.
Under Osterloh’s watchful eye, Google’s efforts to mimic Apple’s in-house design prowess could really take off. Google’s efforts in virtual reality, driverless cars and futuristic projects under X, however, remain out of Osterloh’s reach.