Google Announces Major Restructuring of Devices & Services Teams, Fitbit Co-Founders Depart

Google Announces Major Restructuring of Devices & Services Teams, Fitbit Co-Founders Depart | CIO Women Magazine

In a significant move, Google has unveiled a restructuring plan for its Devices & Services teams, responsible for managing hardware products including Pixel, Nest, and Fitbit. The reorganization, disclosed to employees recently and confirmed by the organization in a statement to 9to5Google, marks a shift from the previous independent team structure for Pixel, Nest, and Fitbit divisions.

Previously, each division operated with distinct teams handling various aspects such as design, hardware engineering, software, and user interface (UI). The restructuring involves transitioning to a functional organizational model, consolidating responsibilities like hardware engineering under one unified team for Pixel, Nest, and Fitbit. This model mirrors Apple’s approach, where centralized teams oversee Software Engineering, Services, Hardware Technologies, and Hardware Engineering.

Leadership Changes and Departure of Fitbit Co-Founders

As part of this reorganization, Fitbit co-founders James Park and Eric Friedman, along with other Fitbit leaders, are departing from Google. Following Google’s acquisition of Fitbit in January 2021, Park had continued as the vice president and general manager of Fitbit. During his tenure, he announced the development of the Pixel Watch and Pixel Watch 2 for the company. The departure of key figures from Fitbit raises questions about the future direction of Google’s wearables, especially considering the Pixel Buds lineup of headphones and other devices in this category.

Workforce Impact and Focus on AR Initiatives

The restructuring will result in the elimination of several hundred roles within the Devices & Services teams, with a major impact on the first-party augmented reality (AR) hardware team. This suggests a shift in the company’s strategy, moving away from in-house AR hardware development and towards an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partnership model. Employees affected by the layoffs will have the opportunity to apply for other open roles within the company, and Google assures its continued support for its workforce.

Despite the downsizing in AR hardware, Google maintains its commitment to AR initiatives, highlighting existing AR features in products like Lens and Maps. The company also emphasizes ongoing product partnerships, such as the Android XR collaboration with Samsung to develop a headset. This move aligns with Google’s broader commitment to AR technology, even as it streamlines its internal hardware development efforts.

Google’s restructuring of its Devices and services teams signals a strategic shift toward a more integrated approach to hardware development. The departure of Fitbit leaders and the downsizing of AR hardware roles indicate a recalibration of priorities within Google’s hardware division. As the company forges ahead, it remains dedicated to advancing AR initiatives and fostering partnerships in the ever-evolving tech landscape.

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