Virtual assistant service Google Now might not be as big a priority inside of the new Google, following the Alphabet shakeup. Sundar Pichai, the new CEO of Google, apparently threw the platform under the bus by moving it from Android to Search.
Multiple staff members working on the virtual assistant left after the move was made.
The senior vice president of Search, Amit Singhal, asked Pichai to move the team away from Android, to become a vehicle for indexing apps. That did not resonate well with the team, who wanted to a build a service baked into the Android operating system.
When asked why the shakeup occurred, Pichai reportedly said Android and Chrome were his two main priorities. This was different when Larry Page was more involved, starting almost every meeting with an update on Google Now.
Page moved away from product development in 2014, implementing Pichai as the day-to-day operator. The Alphabet move is a natural change, meaning Pichai may have made the adjustments to Google Now over 12 months ago.
This is quite a rough time for staff to be abandoning the Google Now project, considering at Google I/O we got a look at ‘Now on Tap’, capable of understanding context within an app. That is one of the biggest new features coming to Android, but might be the last major feature on Google Now in the near future.
At the same time, Apple is adding Proactive to Siri and Microsoft is adding new Bing virtual assistant features for Android.
Even with the original team dropping like flies, Google is not short on available talent. If the day comes it cannot find anyone inside the company to work on the project, we suspect there are quite a few talented startups willing to sell for a few million.
Sundar Pichai might be more focused on the products making the company money, but Larry Page was undoubtedly more adventurous. We will have to see in the next few years which type of management brings better results.