Google software and AI too good, but its hardware can do great?

According to media reports, a long article published recently by the famous American technology magazine “Connection” elaborated that Google is relying on Rick Osterloh to reshape the hardware strategy in order to integrate the Google Assistant Google Assistant People’s lives.

A few seconds later, on the morning of October 4, 2016, Rick Osterloh showed the world’s public the latest Google product portfolio. At this point less than 6 months before he founded Google’s new hardware division.

In April, Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, was appointed to Ostrow, hoping he could turn Google’s software giant into a hardware device maker that could compete with Apple. Ostro has not had enough time to understand all of Google’s products, let alone to conceive and release a series of new products.

However, he was here, tall, broad shoulders, wearing a gray short-sleeved Henry blouse. When he stepped onto the left side of the stage, greeting reporters and analysts at Full House, it was clear that he was in a little restless.

A few minutes ago Pizarre stood on the stage did not relieve Ostrow’s tension. Picazzan pointed out the historical significance of the day and brought indestructible reasons to the audience.

“We are at a groundbreaking time in computer technology,” Pizjik told the audience, explaining how artificial intelligence will lead to a revolution on the Internet or smartphones. And Google’s focus is on the Google Assistant, a virtual digital assistant for months. Google’s vision is to create a “personal Google” for everyone on the planet through virtual digital assistants, helping users search for information, get things done, work more easily and more enjoyably.

Pizjaya made it clear that Google Assistant is a re-noted product under Google, and that Google has invested heavily in developing electronics that integrate Google Assistant. Then he introduced Osterlo, the newcomer who will make this vision a reality.

Within the next hour, Osterlo and his new colleagues launched six products at a stretch, including the Pixel smartphone, the Home smart speaker and the Daydream View virtual reality headset. These products are not dominated by Ostrow, before it came to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Google has already started to develop hardware devices, but most are not very successful.

Google no longer wants to develop gadgets that make people feel bored. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has become the world’s second-largest company, with software developed by Google that serves all the world through apps and websites.

But the nature of computing is changing, and the next phase of development will no longer be around app stores and smartphones. It will focus on the development of artificial intelligence devices that fit seamlessly into the daily lives of its owners. This includes voice assistants, simple wearable devices, home smart devices, and augmented reality devices.

In other words, the future requires more hardware, which Google represents as a threat to itself. Users will no longer search for what they want by logging in to Google’s site; they will only ask for Echo smart speakers within their hearing range and will not care what algorithm Echo will use to answer that question.

Or they’ll use Siri because it’s included with the button on the iPhone. Google needs to figure out exactly how to compete with the electronics manufactured by Amazon, Apple and other technology companies, especially with products from Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino.

Google does have some huge advantages – its software and artificial intelligence features are unparalleled. However, companies have repeatedly tried to develop the hardware in a way that builds the software, but every time it goes missing.

Its innovative streaming media device, Nexus Q, suffered a dramatic failure. In a matter of months, the so-called “best of breed” Nexus handsets have outpaced rivals and even Google’s own hardware partners. As Google Glass Google Glass, we all know what is going on.

Ostro’s job is not to develop new hardware products. His mission is to teach the software company how to overcome the drying up, messiness and lengthy time necessary to develop hardware products and change the corporate culture from the inside. It is not enough just to have great software and the best artificial intelligence researchers in the industry. In order to compete with Apple, Google had to learn how to develop good hardware products.

Ostrow, who is responsible for Google’s hardware renaissance, is fascinated by electronics. Ostrow, who grew up in Los Angeles, once disassembled junk computers in his father’s office trying to assemble a supercomputer. Although eventually ended in failure, but still good memories of Ostrow.

Ostrow initially obsessed with sports, from an early age he was tall and athletic ability, both a volleyball player, but also a basketball player, he was admitted to Stanford University not because of its reputation in Silicon Valley, and Because you can keep moving in the best school in California.

However, in the freshman year, his knees injured twice, may end sports career. Ostrow’s mood was very low. He said: “Much of my identity is about track and field, and I have to completely change myself.” He started looking for other ways to get his positive feeling in sports: teams working toward common goals, Pleasure and usual pleasure.

He found the same feeling plan in a project and began working hard to make up for the shortcomings in his professionalism. Ostero is immersed in strategic thinking about computing as well as problem-oriented solutions.

Still, Ostrow is still a sports fan – as he can easily see at his Google office – with a huge poster about Warriors star Stephen Curry – but technology The industry soon became his destination.

After graduating from Stanford University in 1994, Ostro won a consulting job, but he did not like he was dealing only with documents and slides. So he went to Stanford University Business School to rebuild. After some internship with Amazon, he found a job at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, a venture capital firm, who looked at possible investments in mobile technology.

At that time, the BlackBerry started to attract public interest, and Ostrow also proceeded to study it in depth. He built Blackberry’s first device, the internet pager, Inter @ ctive Pager, and was surprised by the productivity of this small form factor communication device. He has been thinking about this thing.

In Kleiner’s portfolio, there is a company called Good Technology, which has assigned Osterro to help shape its business model.

Initially, Good’s plan was to develop a module for the Handspring Visor (a modular PDA) that many would consider a PDA as the next big computing platform. Good’s first device was an MP3 player module called SoundsGood. However, Visor never took off, and SoundsGood also sold very badly.

Ostrow came up with a new idea: let’s compete with the BlackBerry. He thinks Good can develop simple synchronization and messaging software, and the BlackBerry is already very powerful and valuable in this space, with any competing idea appealing to investors. Good raised millions of dollars.

Good is a software company, but it requires hardware to run the code. The team met with the BlackBerry who just started making smartphones. Blackberry executives looked at what Good was developing, “They exclude it because Good’s software is better than BlackBerry,” Osterlo said. “They realize we’re enemies, not friends.”

At that time, Palm, Danger and Nokia are developing smart phones, but none of them are comparable to the BlackBerry. Both Ostrow and Good are well aware that the only way to find a working device for their software is to develop their own hardware and as such they are starting to develop a G100 device similar to a BlackBerry.

Ostrow has benefited from recalling his development of the G100. “It is very interesting to go through the entire design process and test with the user,” he said. Everything about hardware development is new and complex: how to get the keyboard right, how to adjust the trackball until it feels perfect, and how to make sure the battery lasts for days.

Ostro said: “The development of this product is very difficult when we ship, I think ‘This is what I want to do forever’.” He not only found his mission, but also clearly from the software In the most profitable, the only way is to develop matching hardware products.

Unfortunately, this is only Ostrow’s wishful thinking, Good does not want to develop the hardware forever. The G100, which went public in 2002, received wide acclaim in the industry, but others at the company saw it as a reference device and a blueprint that other companies could follow and adjust. They think the mobile phone industry will look like a personal computer: Many companies produce hardware but run the same software.

As a result, there is no need to develop a good mobile phone product. Ostrow said: “After that we seem to have walked into the desert and tried one new device after another, but none of them matched our software.” Good worked on software for every cell phone at the time, and even And to inject HTC and other mobile phone manufacturers to improve the user experience, but no longer find the same products as the G100.

“Companies come to us and say ‘we like your software, but we hate Treos’,” Ostero refers to Palm’s smartphone line. He never forgot it.

In 2006, Good was acquired by Motorola, the giants of this feature machine was already in the siege of the smartphone maker. Motorola has no software expertise and no plan to develop smartphones. Good joins like a savior. But the timing can no longer be worse. Just days after the acquisition was completed, Motorola’s Razr was once an incredible cash cow and stopped selling almost overnight.

Soon after, Apple released the iPhone. Osterre clearly the trend has been irreversible: Prior to the deal with Motorola, he and Good worked with Apple to develop software on the new device iPhone. He told bosses who did not like Apple’s touchscreen phones that they were laughing at the future.

While dealing with Apple, Ostrow and Good have also been trying to integrate their software with a smartphone operating system called Android.

Now, as a Motorola employee, he thinks Android is the only way companies can fight the iPhone. Ostrow is convinced that Motorola’s only hope is to develop as soon as possible an equal level of smart phones, which means to use the Android operating system.

Motorola eventually went into effect, largely because of the efforts of the new chief executive, Sanjay Jha, who closed almost all of his divisions except Android after taking office in 2008. Ostrow helped develop and release the Cliq and later Droid, the first Android phone to be great, and the device that pulled Motorola back from the cliff.

Pictured: Before Ostro joined Google, the company’s hardware product development team was up against each other. Ostrow has focused hardware products, including Daydream View virtual reality headsets, Chromecast laptops, home smart speakers Google Home and Pixel smartphones.

Shortly after, Ostrow left to join Skype as product manager for two years. However, Ostrow breakthrough time in the hardware field is very short. Google is buying Motorola for $ 12.5 billion and is looking for new leadership for the company. Dennis Woodside, Google’s senior vice president, was named chief executive of Motorola. Google senior vice president Jonathan Rosenberg called Ostrow and asked if he was willing to come back to lead Motorola’s product management team.

The offer from Google seems to be a perfect match. This gives Osterlo the opportunity to develop hardware inside of Google and work with the successful Android team. With Google’s hardware and software support, they finally have the capital to compete with the iPhone.

but it is not the truth. Because of fear of alienating other Android partners such as Samsung and LG, Google makes every effort to maintain Motorola’s independence. “There’s virtually no technology consolidation,” Ostrow said. “That’s not what I expected.” He had thought he would eventually combine software and hardware, but Motorola was seen as a completely separate company . He said: “It’s really close to what I’ve been dreaming of, but it never got there.”

The relationship between Google and hardware has always been awkward. Most of the company’s hardware products are born in the same way: Someone has a good idea of ​​the software, but they can not find the right device to run the software. Then, the man started to make the device himself, and the team did little to help it.

Google tends to see these products as a reference device or source of inspiration, confirms the viability of an idea, and hopes that the hardware manufacturer’s ecosystem can benefit from it. So from Chromebox, Nexus Q to Nexus Player, there are so many similar Google products and abandoned ideas.

This is not surprising: manufacturing hardware runs counter to Google’s entire corporate culture. Companies exclude standardized processes and management, but these are two things that hardware manufacturers can not do without. In fact, Google encourages and promotes chaos in its software development and invariably invites anyone in the company unexpectedly to develop something, even just to see if it works. (Google even once tried a corporate structure without any manager.)

Google’s most successful products are constantly improving. Eric Schmidt, a former chief executive, calls the system “posted and iterated.” His Proposal in “How Google Works” is a consistent concept that does not try to get things done right once.

Schmidt writes: “Create a product, post it, see how it works, then design and implement improvements, then push it out … Post and iterate, and the fastest companies in the process will win “When Google changed its name to Alphabet, all of the company’s long-term projects seemed to be halting and it was being spun off from Google’s product line. These projects are called “moonshots,” and it seems like anything that takes more than a year is impossible.

But release and iteration are not suitable for hardware development at all. A fine-tuning of a hardware product can take weeks and cost millions of dollars at the same time. Every minute change in the hardware product spills over the entire supply chain, changing vendor time schedules, changing existing equipment, and slowing down all progress.

If some of the time is postponed, you will miss the original delivery date and will not reverse your Black Friday. You want to set 50% more goods? Well, even if you’re lucky, you’ll have to wait six months. The hardware world will not change because of your whim.

Even as hardware development goes well, Google’s corporate culture does not support these teams to get the software they need. “We had to beg for all the software teams,” said Rishi Chandra, Google’s senior staff. He was responsible for developing Google TV platform in 2010, but eventually failed. He was then responsible for developing Google Home.

Engineers working on Chrome or Android are accustomed to developing products that can reach millions or even billions of people. They will ask Chandra, how do you attract so many users? Why do we care about your product until it can land?

Google’s corporate culture is exactly the opposite of Apple. Apple’s software executives are always concerned with specific products, such as Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering, whose goal is to make the iPhone a better place. At Google, however, the priorities for various issues do not seem to be one of the top priorities because they support the products they own, as well as the products they use for partners and across the Internet.

Google’s corporate culture revolves around software. This is its strength and its billions of dollars in profits. This approach is no different and no exception in promoting virtual assistants. Of course, Google’s determination seems to be much higher this time.

Pizzer is convinced that such a useful chat machine will be the way for billions of people to interact with Google in the future. If right, virtual assistants can be ubiquitous artificial intelligence to help users do all their everyday tasks – whether through mobile phones, Google Home smart speakers, smart home-bound smart bulbs, dishwashers and thermostats, and more .

In addition to the keyboard and screen, it connects information and services to users in a more natural and contextual manner. It may even encourage consumers to use Google services more often.

So what if Google did wrong? No doubt Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana are ready.

In the early days of speech technology, users were still struggling to find out what their virtual assistant had other than setting timers and playing music. However, the only way to improve virtual assistants is to make Google believe that it is now worthwhile to interact with virtual assistants. Google needs more data to understand more of the sound, to do more, to persuade third-party developers to expand its capabilities and to integrate virtual assistants into their hardware products. The key first step is to ensure that users always have easy access to Google’s virtual assistant wherever they are.

In the past, when Google developed hardware products, it was mainly through partnerships with experienced manufacturers. However, its relationship with Android partners is on the decline. As the most important partner of the Android operating system, Samsung is developing its own virtual assistant Bixby, and deliberately keep a distance from Google. Google is also working with its traditional Nexus project to work on new devices with hardware manufacturers such as LG or Huawei, but its own hardware development can not rely on it.

In fact, apart from being able to voice their opinions on the aesthetic, these partnerships leave Google with nothing to control, and partners often retain the best for themselves. Ostero pointed out: “Last year, HTC helped us to develop Pixel smartphones, but in a few months they released the U11, which has the industry’s best smartphone camera. In fact, every Nexus device Replaced by the handset released by Google hardware partners just after it. ”

Even more unfortunate is that Google has given up its own hardware skills, in 2014 for about 3 billion US dollars to Motorola sold to Lenovo. Nest, the other hardware vendor acquired by Google, has lost its founders and is in turmoil with management and product storms. If Google wants to develop its own hardware, then it needs to start again – this time to be done within Google.

Ostrow is also planning to resign from Motorola as Google prepares to prototype its hardware products by early 2016. He did not want to go to Lenovo’s headquarters in China, and he himself had been offered an offer to go to the CEO of DocuSign, an electronic document signing company. He called Jonathan Rosenberg, his long-time adviser and advisor, to thank him for all his help during Google.

Rosenberg interrupted him: “You said I was helpful, right?” Yes, absolutely, Osterlo answered. “So, would you help me a favor? Talk to Sandal?” Rosenberg asked. He told Ostrow that Pizjay is planning to set up a hardware team, hoping for some advice. Rosenberg also emphasized that it was just a suggestion, with no other ideas.

The meeting between Ostrow and Pizzer soon turned into an interview, and both sides raised many questions. After several days of exchange, Ostrow realized that Pizjay was talking about his dream job. He also began to believe that Google eventually began to take hardware manufacturing seriously.

But Ostrow had a lesson. So he found Hiroshi Lockheimer, head of Google’s Android team, who had worked with Lockheimer while working at Google, who happened to be Osterlo’s closest friend. They spent the whole day talking about how they became co-workers again. Ostro raised many questions about how to integrate hardware and software, and how internally-built hardware coexists with other Android ecosystems.

Ostro said: “If it would be as difficult and tense as Motorola, I would not want to join the company.” However, he found the opposite: Google is ready to make hardware a priority and take it very seriously. Eventually Ostrow called DocuSign, declining to be chief executive officer. This time he became a real Google employee again.

After joining Google, Osterlo immediately with Rosenberg to look for each of Google’s hardware projects, regardless of size. They found more than a dozen projects involving more than 1,000 people. Some work on Nexus phones while others work on a new product line called Pixel. There are also many people in the widespread promotion of such long-term projects such as Google Glass and Project Ara modular smart phones. Some Google employees are developing Chromebooks while others are researching a new Wi-Fi router.

There is no centralized management of these teams and no overall plan. Ostro called it a loose federation, probably similar to the “hardware of the European Union”, anyway, is not good words.

Ostrow has all his hardware teams under their own leadership, making 55% of these 1,000 employees new managers. Instead of letting the head of each product take responsibility, Ostrot opted to implement a “functional” architecture that allows its leaders to monitor Google’s entire hardware organization to the maximum.

Ivy Ross, who was the head of Google Glass, was responsible for the hardware design. Mario Queiroz is responsible for product management. Ana Corrales, Nest’s chief financial officer and chief operating officer, has long been a manufacturing executive who oversees all business operations and supply chains. The team started to focus on planning and forecasting and simplified communication with suppliers. They set out a five-year plan that was once a curse for Google.

And Ostrow worked with people who described him as a benevolent, a good boss. Chandra said: “What I most admire Rick is that he really is talking about patience.” In conversation, he was very excited and tended to spend 45 minutes answering all the simple questions. Based on past and present colleagues’ opinions, he is the perfect candidate for the job: high attention to detail, unresponsive panic, and quick decision-making. Most importantly, he is a well-deserved product geek.

“He always changed his cellphone, and he wants us to keep changing his cellphone,” said Claras. “I do not want to change my phone!”

Part of the motivation behind Ostro’s new structure is ensuring that no one feels that his job is tied to a product, so they do not panic if the product is killed. Because Ostrow needs to kick off some of the products.

He traverses every piece of hardware in Google’s plan, choosing which one to keep and which one to stop. Ostrow said every decision is not easy, but two of them are particularly difficult.

As early as working in Motorola, Ostrow worked for Ara’s modular cellphone project and is fully committed to the project’s mission: to develop a $ 50 cellphone with upgradable parts that can last longer, and More environmentally friendly than any other device. However, the device is less modular than anyone wants.

“So it’s just like any other cellphone, except that it adds 6 modules to the back,” said Ostrow. He just wanted to make a phone, not a lot of phones, so he closed the Ara project.

Pictured: A year and a half after taking part in Google, Oslo at the conference described how Google applied artificial intelligence to the latest electronic products.

Google Glass is also true. Ostrow understood the project’s vision, but could not figure out how to get there quickly. He screened out something that, although indispensable for the development of an excellent facial augmentation device, was not yet achievable: batteries that last longer in smaller packages, produce less heat but are faster Processor, and potential user groups that are prepared to use such devices.

“It will be a key part of our job in the long run, but timing is a key uncertainty.” Meanwhile, Osterre re-released the Google Glass for Business Edition, which includes factory workers And warehouse employees, including niche markets.

Ostrow has also been working with top Google executives to figure out what Google’s hardware strategy should be in reshaping the organizational structure and screening product lines. These executives shape clichés such as “radical help” and seek ways to communicate humanity and proximity to the public, but their focus is on three words, specifically artificial intelligence, software, and hardware.

He had to accept the fact that even if Google started taking electronics seriously, the focus of the company was always elsewhere. Osterlo likes to say that Moore’s Law that predicts computing power is about to die out, making it more and more difficult to make a fundamental leap in hardware capabilities. He said Google’s strength lies in its algorithms and neural networks. Austro’s job is to Google’s AI more deeply into people’s lives.

The task for the new hardware team is clear: find more ways to get Google Assistant Assistant to emerge and build a sustainable business around it.

This must be fast, because Google is already behind, Siri and Alexa have been deeply rooted in the minds of consumers. Osteros put a lot of resources into the Pixel mobile project, which is a new project launched between several Google employees and HTC, Google for the first time assumed full responsibility for design and engineering, HTC is just a product manufacturer.

Ostrow hopes through this phone, Google will eventually be able to provide their own software the required physical form. Ostrow said: “We have a great ecosystem on the Android operating system, but I do not think anyone can actually deliver a complete Google product experience.”

Integrated hardware and software design can make a more detailed point of decision-making, people can fall in love with the phone. Seang Chau, vice president of engineering at Google’s Pixel mobile team, cites an example: Swiping should be smooth and responsive, requiring in-depth understanding of things like when to start the GPU, how to adjust the processor, how to manage the power, and even which core of the chip is at Run at any given time.

“You pick up another cellphone that has no detailed decision and no optimized cellphone,” he said, noting the difference. Apple has been advocating its products for many years, precisely because it is still in the process of developing software and building hardware, and Google is now following suit.

In addition to Pixel, Ostrov decided to build the other devices that match with Assistant in the same way.

Another team within Google has in the past released two very good laptops, called the Chromebook Pixel, but with limited performance. Ostrow told the team to develop a lighter, thinner, and better laptop and integrate Assistant. They decided to name it Pixelbook and set out to do it. Another group started researching headsets called Pixel Buds, which allowed users to use Assistant without a phone. Google’s Home team and the Chromecast team are also involved in the overall work.

Ostrow said: “Ultimately, users may have a series of devices to complete the task.” Google will eventually think Tablet PC, will certainly consider augmented reality glasses, we will certainly consider wearable devices. But Osterho talked about “fighting for rights” by chasing device consumers to prove his team’s viability in the existing market.

As hardware staff gradually adapt to new roles, Ostrow and his team began to study their production needs. He and Claras visited Asian manufacturers, told them what Google is doing, how they would communicate, and reached a new deal with the supplier.

In November 2017, Ostrow led Google’s $ 1.1bn acquisition of HTC, which brought over 2,000 engineers to Google, many of whom have been developing Nexus and Pixel devices for the past decade people. Ostro said the deal “is very important to helping Google accelerate its expansion, and it takes a lot of time to hire one person and we want to speed things up.” In early 2018, Alphabet began letting Ostrow lead the entire Nest team, Control Google’s future in the smart home market.

Google has too many reasons to catch up. Apple and Samsung continue to introduce competitive software on their hardware products, and new-generation devices are getting better and better. However, Ostrow has stressed again and again (and reminds himself) that it is a good thing to develop a hardware product, which is a good thing, and patience is a virtue. This time, he had the opportunity to prove himself through a work on the combination of hardware and software.

Ivy Ross, head of hardware design at Google and one of Osterlo’s chief deputies, said: “It has a huge stake in him and the company. When you personally have reason to be motivated, you It will be better. ”

October 4, 2017, a year after Osterlo first demonstrated a new generation of Google hardware.

Everything is deja vu. Ostrow wore the same gray Henry blouse and stood on the side of the stage, while Pizjay also explained that artificial intelligence was the future. But this time they are in the Jazz Center in San Francisco, a bigger and more impressive place. They have been rehearsing for several weeks, adjusting the content and order of speeches to better explain Google’s goals.

Ostrow said the biggest difference is that this time he knows the story. In 2016, he tried to elaborate a grand story around many unrelated products. Although these products are very popular, the successes achieved are limited. (Amazon Echo is still killing Google Home, Pixel did not completely affect the iPhone’s bottom line.) 18 months after joining Google, Ostrow is to show the world the true face of Google’s hardware.

When he started to tell when he stepped onto the stage, he was obviously more confident than a year ago. He reminded viewers of the 2016 conference and mentioned the recent acquisition of HTC.

“By working more closely we will be able to better integrate Google’s hardware and software.” “And our products,” he continued, smiling, with joy, reassurance and ambition, “he said. In the second year the momentum has been more and more fierce. “He then turned to promotional video, users from YouTubers to Modern Family, as always, like Google Home smart speakers and Pixel mobile phone.

For the next 90 minutes, Ostrow and his team introduced a host of new products that incorporated Assistant. Ostrow explains how artificial intelligence can give users an excellent experience with ordinary hardware. When introducing Pixel 2, he mentioned that although the phone has only one camera, its software includes a face-training algorithm that makes standard photos even more beautiful. Google tweaked the audio processor inside Pixel Buds to simplify the experience of using the Assistant Assistant via headphones and to achieve real-time translation.

Home Max can adjust its audio output to match any space, improving sound quality. A new camera called “Clips” recognizes moments worth taking pictures and takes photos and videos on their own. Ostrow and his team show everyone how smarter their products are from their competitors, one by one, to everyone.

The press conference is very smooth, but not perfect. Some users find the OLED screen of Pixel 2 XL has some problems, Google chose this screen to show its cool context software. Others found problems with the Home Mini touch panel, accidentally turning it on and recording hours of audio. Commentators praised Pixel Buds product philosophy, but not every feature.

All of these issues have sickened Ostrow – “I suffer from insomnia every time my customers are upset,” he said, but it seems to inspire him. He knows how to deal with these challenges: more rigorous processes and more rigorous management. This is a typical hardware thinking, which he learned a long time ago. Different from the previous year, this time Osterllo has a clear direction of development. He leads the product is part of the entire company. After completing its mission, Google needs to do more than just launch the device, it needs to learn how to win.