David Foster, Head of the Google Pixel Division, Leaves Google to go back to Amazon
Last year was when we first saw Google start to get serious with its smartphone hardware division. Sure, the company has been releasing Nexus devices for several years, but the technology giant mostly viewed these devices as developer reference models and not as true consumer flagship smartphones. That changed with the Google Pixel brand becoming their flagship smartphone. The Pixel and Pixel XL are still regarded as some of the best smartphones from 2016 and the company hopes that will continue this year with their successors.
This refreshed focus on hardware resulted in Google hiring some key employees for the project. Rick Osterloh had left Lenovo/Motorola and was subsequently picked up by Google last year to run the hardware division they had just created. Then a second interesting hire happened when Google brought in David Foster to run the Pixel phone division. He was in charge of his team who worked on the phone, but still reported directly to Mr. Osterloh.
Mr. Foster has worked at many places such as IBM’s research company in the 80s and 90s, at Apple in the late 90s, and then Amazon where he worked on the Kindle and Kindle Fire tablet line. However, it’s now being reported by Bloomberg (and confirmed by Google themselves) that Mr. Foster has left Google as he has been poached by Amazon. At this time, he has not made any announcement on what he will be working on at Amazon.
It’s also unclear exactly how big of an impact this will have on Google. The man was in charge of the entire Pixel phone division so this could result in a change in the quality or the direction of the Pixel 2 phones. However, Bloomberg cites “a person familiar with the company’s plans” and states that Google doesn’t have any plans to fill the role Mr. Foster had (at least right now). This could change in the future but for now it is assumed that Mr. Osterloh is taking on his responsibilities.