Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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What’s up with Google?

Dieter Bohn sums up the weird stuff going on in Google land these days over at the Verge:

Let’s review what’s been happening at Alphabet in the past months. We’ve been seeing a lot of bad news come out lately, and I figured it’s time to try to make sense of it all — or at least to put all of the bad news in one place. The very latest is that the new head of hardware at Google, Rick Osterloh, has decided to kill the Project Ara modular smartphone project. It occurs to me that it’s just the latest in a string of missteps and corrections for both Alphabet and Google.

Lots of strange stuff, most recently the Reuters report that Google has suspended Project Ara, its modular smartphone effort that it was just promoting a few months ago. Earlier this week we heard that all of Nest’s software efforts were being brought inside Google proper.

You could look at these as signs of trouble. But I don’t know, maybe these are signs that Google is growing up. Project Ara was a stupid idea driven by the hubris of engineers who thought that just because they could envision a phone with a bunch of swappable modules, it was something that they should build and people might buy. It was a fantasy. Killing stupid projects isn’t a sign of trouble—it’s a sign of intelligence.

As for Nest software development being brought inside Google proper, I don’t know enough about the inner workings of Nest, but it’s been slow and sluggish for years. Maybe Google should’ve canned Tony Fadell and absorbed it into the collective right when it bought it. Maybe this will be a better situation.

It does call into question the entire raison d’être of Alphabet, though, doesn’t it? Alphabet is supposed to let Google be Google, Nest be Nest, and other parts of the Google-owned empire be what they need to be, separate from one another. Maybe the powers at the heart of Google have decided that Alphabet, like Project Ara, was all a mistake.

Some people will portray that as Alphabet being in disarray. And maybe it is. But sometimes the right thing to do is admit you were wrong and try something different. Who knows? Maybe that’s what’s happening at Google now.

—Linked by Jason Snell

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