Google "dismantled" Android hardware initiatives after buying Nest, claims disputed report

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 2014
A report seeking to profile both Google's Sundar Pichai (who replaced Andy Rubin as head of Android) and Nest founder Tony Fadell claims that Pichai appointed Fadell to run Google's hardware. Fadell retorted that the story "is 100% wrong," but neither he nor Google have refuted any of the more titillating details about Pichai or the search giant presented in the article.

Google's Sundar Pichai


A paywalled report by The Information, titled "At Google, Larry Page Finds His Right-Hand Man," detailed Pichai as the new head of Android, "tasked with using Google's Android and Chrome software to bring the company's revenue-generating Web services and mobile apps to billions of people around the world."

The report stated that "Pichai is also working to assure that all smartphones powered by Android mobile operating system offer the same type of experience [an allusion to Android Silver], and trying to make Android smartphones and tablets a more appealing option for business customers [a reference to Android's poor representation in the enterprise], in both cases trying to catch up to rival Apple."

Pichai, who formerly ran Google's Chrome initiatives, took over control of Android early last year after Rubin was demoted to a position working on nebulous "future products," said to be related to actual robots and even jetpacks.

Rubin, the original founder of Android, had been pushing Google to invest in a series of failed initiatives ranging from Android TV to the Nexus Q to Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablets, and was said to be the primary proponent pushing for Google's disastrous acquisition of Motorola Mobility.

Google's purchase of Motorola resulted the incineration of hundreds of millions of dollars in quarterly losses while churning out a series of product flops before the company finally pulled the plug on what turned out to be one of the most epically embarrassing failures in the history of technology.

Fadell disputes his reported role in owning Google hardware

After announcing plans to dump Motorola, Google subsequently acquired Nest, a hardware company founded by Fadell, who at Apple had spearheaded work to deliver the original iPod over a decade ago. The Information stated that after the acquisition of Nest, "Mr. Pichai dismantled almost all of the Android team's hardware initiatives in order to let Mr. Fadell effectively 'own' Google's consumer electronics operations."

In response, Fadell used Twitter to insist, "The Information is 100% wrong! I run Nest as a separate biz w/ its own mgmt & brand."

The Information is 100% wrong! I run Nest as a separate biz w/ its own mgmt & brand. http://t.co/UHLcYIGnbk pic.twitter.com/yWpLvu5rZ3"

-- Tony Fadell (@tfadell)


The site then replied, "Hi Tony. We never said you didn't run Nest as separate biz w/ own mgmt and brand! What line are you talking about?"

Various blogs interpreted the report as Gizmodo initially did, claiming that "The Genius Behind the iPod Is Now In Charge of Google Hardware," before later adding a quote from "a Google spokesperson" who similarly stated, "Tony runs Nest as a separate business, with its own management team and brand. It's more than enough to keep him extremely busy."

No disputes about Pichai's role or track record at Google

Apart from questioning Fadell's role at Google, neither Fadell nor Google addressed any of the other claims made by The Information, none of which conflict with what is already known about the company.

For example, Pichai is described in the report as a "team player," a role that enabled him "to outlast or gain more power than his peers as Mr. Page [Google chief executive and the inventor of PageRank, the foundation of Google's search ranking business] has sought to quell infighting among top executives, which has plagued Google from its earliest days."

In addition to surpassing Rubin, Pichai has also outlasted Vic Gundotra (who left the company after struggling to gain traction for Google+, his pet project as SVP of Google Social) and Marissa Mayer (who left Google to become Yahoo's chief executive after being passed over for promotions), making Pichai the apparent "right hand man" of Google's chief executive Page.

The report also cited critics as alleging that Pichai "isn't a wellspring of ideas and doesn't have grand visions of the future," citing in particular the failure of Chrome OS laptops or the Chrome Web Apps store to gain any real traction under his direction.

Pichai's success with Chrome, failure with Chrome OS

Chrome OS was cited by Steve Jobs as a primary reason (along with Android) for Apple's decision to distance itself from Google in the removal of Eric Schmidt from Apple's board in 2009.In 2010, Google's partnership to produce Chrome OS notebooks with HP fell apart after HP acquired Palm for its webOS

Two other board members who formerly served both companies, Intuit Chairman Bill Campbell and former Genentech CEO Dr. Arthur Levinson also severed their ties with Google that same year.

While Jobs didn't articulate it in public, that was the same year Apple began working on its own maps backend powered by a series of acquisitions, as well as new efforts to line up alternative search services focused on Microsoft's Bing and the company's own Spotlight and Siri (acquired in early 2010).

Additionally, Apple also began efforts to develop its own in-house advertising network that became iAd, formed from the early 2010 acquisition of Quattro after Google blocked Apple's efforts to buy AdMob in late 2009.



The Information also reported that in 2010, Google's partnership to produce Chrome OS notebooks with HP fell apart after HP acquired Palm for its webOS, resulting in a decision to abandon its plans for Chrome OS. That resulted in a "delay in bringing the Google-designed laptops to market."

Slack interest in Chrome OS motivated Google to revamp the system to look and work more like Windows in 2012 (above). Google has since worked with Samsung to deliver Chromebooks (below), but that relationship is also under tension as Samsung threatens to move from Android to its own Tizen."Pichai told Samsung's mobile-products leadership that he was willing to 'walk away' from Samsung"

Just six months ago at the January Consumer Electronics Show, "Pichai told Samsung's mobile-products leadership that he was willing to 'walk away' from Samsung, the biggest maker of Andorid smartphones, according to a person who was officially briefed about the meeting at Google," the report noted.

A resulting "uneasy truce" was reached between Samsung and Google after a tense standoff where "Pichai was prepared to forbid Samsung from using Android," the report stated, noting that "the threat was part of a long-running feud between the companies over Google's perception that Samsung is hijacking Android by de-emphasizing Google's pre-installed, revenue-generating applications in favor of competing Samsung apps, among other things."



The report also observed that "the rise of tablets like the iPad, combined with consumer hesitation about machines that function only with an Internet connection, have rendered Chromebooks a niche product so far."

The failure of Chrome OS has been ameliorated by the success of the Chrome browser itself, which helped Pichai climb to the top of Android "as Mr. Rubin stepped aside to build robots."

Notably, while quickly jumping to refute the reported role of Fadell, Google did not dispute the fact that Chrome OS hasn't worked out according to plan or the ideas that "Pichai dismantled almost all of the Android team's hardware initiatives" and that Google and Samsung have suffered through bitter strife as frenemy-rivals.

It is also well known that Pichai scuttled Rubin's efforts to relaunch a third attempt to deliver Android TV when he took over Android earlier last year. At the same time, Pichai has reiterated Rubin's open ideology regarding Android, noting on the subject of mobile security in February that "we do not guarantee that Android is designed to be safe; its format was designed to give more freedom."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 43
    applesauce007applesauce007 Posts: 1,672member
    What a mess...:err:
    I can see why Fadell wants to distance himself and Nest from this mess but he already took the devil's money so he now has to deliver his soul. :devil:
    Sundar Pichai probably wants Nest devices to become Android based but Fadell may have other plans to stay clear of Larry Ellison's lawsuits.
    Nest already has Honeywell on their back for the hardware, the last thing they need now is Oracle on their back for the software. :no:

    Google needs to really focus on improving search results, especially with new multi engine search systems like the Yosemite Spotlight coming out.

    I can see others mimicking this multi search engine method and new smaller more focused engines surfacing...

    Wikipedia, Wolfram Alpha, Yelp, Bing, Topsy, Siri, Apple Maps, iBookStore, iTunes, Fandango, Local machine's contacts, emails, files, messages etc...
  • Reply 2 of 43
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Ah, it's Google Insider again today. :p
  • Reply 3 of 43

    I here you, I been using http://LookSeek.com for about a year, try to stay away from them

  • Reply 4 of 43
    We do not guarantee that Android is designed to be safe; its format was designed to give more freedom. This sort of comment would scare me if I had an android phone. All the sensitive information we have on our smart phones these days and your told your free to do as you please but not safe.
  • Reply 5 of 43
    gerardgerard Posts: 75member
    I'm glad this story was written because I own a nest thermostat and nest protect. I'm already returning the protect for a full refund because of the recall. Now I have to get rid of the thermostat because of these plans. I will be replacing them with Apple Home Kit partners.
  • Reply 6 of 43
    jkimjkim Posts: 1member
    Steve Jobs wanted to destroy Android and Google. It looks the the evil empire doesn't need any help from Apple.
  • Reply 7 of 43
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleSauce007 View Post

    What a mess...image

     

    More like a toxic hellstew.

  • Reply 8 of 43
    gerard wrote: »
    I'm glad this story was written because I own a nest thermostat and nest protect. I'm already returning the protect for a full refund because of the recall. Now I have to get rid of the thermostat because of these plans. I will be replacing them with Apple Home Kit partners.

    I like that Apple tends to not respond to rumors. Tony's immediate rebuttal about his role reminded me of his immediate denial that Google would not gain access to Nest's user data. Both the rebuttal and denial sound false. The denial was proven false soon after it was made. The rebuttal may be proven false during Google I/O this week.

    If Tony is proven false, this would be strike two on the trust me scale in less than six months!
  • Reply 9 of 43
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    gerard wrote: »
    Now I have to get rid of the thermostat because of these plans. I will be replacing them with Apple Home Kit partners.

    1) I'd imagine you have some time before Nest gets updated to deliver ads but any data from the time you bought is and was always susceptible to being sold for data mining so even if you got rid of it today your previous data could still be used by Google and will you be sure the new brand of thermostat won't be selling or using your usage data?

    2) Does this article mean that Nest won't be able to work with HomeKit? I'd think that Nest owners are also probably predominately iPhone users.and since Google cares about data mining t(and certainly developers based on their SDK) hey might want to utilize this new set of APIs in iOS 8.
  • Reply 10 of 43
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,181member
    solipsismx wrote: »
    1) I'd imagine you have some time before Nest gets updated to deliver ads but any data from the time you bought is and was always susceptible to being sold for data mining so even if you got rid of it today your previous data could still be used by Google and will you be sure the new brand of thermostat won't be selling or using your usage data?

    2) Does this article mean that Nest won't be able to work with HomeKit? I'd think that Nest owners are also probably predominately iPhone users.and since Google cares about data mining t(and certainly developers based on their SDK) hey might want to utilize this new set of APIs in iOS 8.

    Where in the story does it say Google will have access to Nest user data, much less use it for targeting ads?
  • Reply 11 of 43
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    Where in the story does it say Google will have access to Nest user data, much less use it for targeting ads?

    1) Of course Google will have access to Nest data since they own the company. Even Tony Fadell has stated Nest has access to that data, "The data that we collect is all about our products and improving them.”


    2) Here is Matt Rogers saying Google will be getting access to Nest user data.


    3) And here an article about Google wanting the option to deliver targeted ads through your home appliances.
  • Reply 12 of 43
    negafoxnegafox Posts: 480member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    Ah, it's Google Insider again today. image

    Google I/O 2014 is later this week. I expect Android Insider to have full coverage, followed up with DED hyperbole articles.

  • Reply 13 of 43
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,005member

    Here is what happen, when Google Bought Motorola and before they dump Rubin they hand over all android related development activities to group of Motorola engineers, this group was different than the ones who turn out the MotoX and its variants . Then when Google sold Motorola to Lenovo they told this same group of engineers that were going with Lenovo and could not stay with Google.  Then Google bought Nest and we have this story. What Google is doing with Hardware is questionable at this point, it could be Fadell heading it all up, but with the whole issue with Motorola really created hole in what they were doing.

     

    The best thing for Apple is to have Fadell running things, I do not believe he was the master mind behind the iPod, we know how Steve was and their is only one master in the room when he was there. Fadell was just a very good Indian in my opinion he did what he was told to do  by Steve and it obvious he thought he was going to be guy in charge when Steve died, and we saw what happen there.

  • Reply 14 of 43
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,181member
    solipsismx wrote: »
    1) Of course Google will have access to Nest data since they own the company. Even Tony Fadell has stated Nest has access to that data, "The data that we collect is all about our products and improving them.”


    2) Here is Matt Rogers saying Google will be getting access to Nest user data.


    3) And here an article about Google wanting the option to deliver targeted ads through your home appliances.

    "Users will have to opt in for their information to be shared with Google, Rogers said. “We’re not becoming part of the greater Google machine,” he said.

    The news comes as Nest said it will allow developers of appliances, light fixtures, garage door openers and more to access user information, part of Nest’s bid to be the operating system for the smart home.

    The data sharing, particularly with Google, raises questions about user privacy. “What will happen to all this data? That is something that Google and Nest will have to be careful about,” said Gartner analyst Brian Blau. “There’s a higher expectation of privacy when you are in your home.”

    Rogers tried to ease concerns when Google announced the Nest acquisition in January. “Our privacy policy clearly limits the use of customer information to providing and improving Nest’s products and services. We’ve always taken privacy seriously and this will not change,” he wrote in a blog post.

    Most of the data that Nest will share – with Google and others – will focus on whether users are at home or not, as detected by sensors on the thermostat.
    When people link a home device and related account with Nest, the company will not share their email address, name or home address with other companies, Rogers said.

    Each company linking to Nest, including Google, will have to write to users explaining what data they are using and how they will use the information, Rogers said. There will also be a way to un-link the devices from Nest with one click through its mobile app, he added.

    The integration with Google will be like “any other third party,” said Rogers."

    Hmmm... So users decide to share information with a 3rd party, not Nest deciding for them. Personal information isn't shared at all, even with Google. And Google can't use any Nest information for ad targeting and is treated just the same as any other 3rd party when it comes to applications and interfacing with Nest. Thanks for that link Soli. That should help others here understand a little better.

    As far as ads on Nest the statement you point to was made in a 2013 SEC filing, well before the Nest deal. Subsequently both Nest and Google have clarified that if you own a Nest device "no ads for you".
    http://recode.net/2014/05/21/nests-tony-fadell-no-ads-on-thermostats/

    Competitors and their supporters will go out of their way to keep potential privacy issues front and center to drown out positive benefits of whole-home control particularly served from Nest. Google will push back just as hard to ensure users of Nest products and their licensees never have a "privacy moment" that causes them to question their choice. There won't be an "oops we didn't mean to do that". IMHO Google ain't going to do sumpthin' stoopid to screw up a billion dollar purchase that put them square in the center of a burgeoning home automation business.

    I believe Google's focus for the future involves hardware and services a whole lot more than finding another set of eyeballs for a piddly ad. Giving ammunition to foes brandishing currently empty guns won't be in Google's interest in making that happen.
  • Reply 15 of 43
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  • Reply 16 of 43
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    […]
    As far as ads on Nest the statement you point to was made in a 2013 SEC filing, well before the Nest deal. Subsequently both Nest and Google have clarified that if you own a Nest device "no ads for you".
    None of the current Opt-In statements are set in stone. They can change at any time or Google can simply ignore it just like with Do Not Track. Also, there is still device and diagnostic data that would likely fall outside of this carefully worded Opt-In agreement.

    As for the SEC filing, what does it matter if they did it before or after buying Nest? They clearly have heavily considered such ads so it's foolish to pretend this couldn't happen.
  • Reply 17 of 43
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,992member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post





    1) Of course Google will have access to Nest data since they own the company. Even Tony Fadell has stated Nest has access to that data, "The data that we collect is all about our products and improving them.”


    2) Here is Matt Rogers saying Google will be getting access to Nest user data.


    3) And here an article about Google wanting the option to deliver targeted ads through your home appliances.

     

    The strangest thing about this gator guy, is the litany of links he presents in support of a certain advertising and search company while seeming to have great difficulty in finding anything that backs up anything negative about said advertising and search company.

  • Reply 18 of 43
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    hill60 wrote: »
    The strangest thing about this gator guy, is the litany of links he presents in support of a certain advertising and search company while seeming to have great difficulty in finding anything that backs up anything negative about said advertising and search company.

    I think he posts more negative comments about Google and some here post negative comments about Apple. I believe just yesterday he did agree Google fucked up with their Glass release.
  • Reply 19 of 43
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,181member
    solipsismx wrote: »
    None of the current Opt-In statements are set in stone. They can change at any time

    Of course they can. So could Apple's privacy policies and they have over time. But just like with Apple it will be in Nest and Google's best interests going forward to take a strong stand on user privacy in any home automation efforts. This isn't about eyeballs and ads anymore than it is for Apple HomeKit.
  • Reply 20 of 43
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    Of course they can. So could Apple's privacy policies and they have over time. But just like with Apple it will be in Nest and Google's best interests going forward to take a strong stand on user privacy in any home automation efforts.

    Time may tell if they use Nest improperly but Google doesn't have a good track record. Why file with the SEC if you have no intention to deliver ads in that manner and it's just going to make you look bad?
    This isn't about eyeballs and ads anymore than it is for Apple HomeKit.

    [@]Maestro64[/@] gives a good synopsis of the weirdness with the Moto purchase. Do you think Google really wants to focus on making great HW with zero data mining now with their Nest purchase? Again, that may be the case but so far there is no track record to indicate that is the case and we have matt Rogers saying Google is getting data from Nest.


    PS: This whole Motorola sues companies, not Google, and Nest will be completely independent of Google, yet still owned by Google, is sort of like mobsters get away with crimes. They hire out the hits so they can keep their hands technically clean. "I was eating dinner with my family when that particular tragedy happened. I have 100 witnesses that can attest to my whereabouts. Ooooh!" (For some reason I imagined that as Andrew Dice Clay)
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