In a sweeping transfer of power, Google CEO Larry Page will bequeath operational leadership of a host of core products to his lieutenant Sundar Pichai. Pichai, a well-known Google executive, will add control of Google+, search, maps, infrastructure and ads to his portfolio, which already includes Chrome’s browser and operating system efforts, Google Apps and Android.
When Pichai took over Android from Google’s Andy Rubin, TechCrunch heralded the change as indicative of new integration between Android, and Chrome. Some expect the two to fuse completely. Bringing Android under Pichai wasn’t a subtle signal.
To have both Chrome OS and Android ship, separately, on increasingly large screens makes little sense.
It isn’t a stretch of the imagination to infer that bringing more product groups under Pichai will allow for increased harmony between the various efforts, and, when possible, coupling where integration would be too minor a goal.
Chrome OS and Android remain distinct. Google is not alone in working towards a way to bring its touch-first, mobile-friendly operating system work in sync with its desktop efforts. Google’s position is merely the oddest as its desktop efforts are borne and shipped directly from its dichotomized, touch-first, mobile-friendly operating systems.
Apple is making similar moves, allowing its desktop-focused OS X and its mobile-first iOS to communicate with one another. On the more extreme end, Microsoft tried to stuff a tablet-friendly user interface on top of a bastardized version of Windows 7, work that managed to charm a grand total of no one. That company is attempting to pay for its past sins with a new operating system called Windows 10.
Why Google might want a single operating system and product stack is simple: The more seamless its operating system setup can be, the easier it is for users to buy into it across device categories. That increases the reach of core Google services like search, and its app marketplace, things that bring the parent company direct and indirect revenue.
Keep in mind that mobile isn’t a part of the future; it is the future. And so Google’s Chrome OS efforts must be taken under the greater arc of Android, given that the latter ships a vast multiple of the former’s device volume and is truly the de facto mobile operating system.
Pichai now possesses nearly all the tools that Google has built to conquer the technology world to use as he will. How he will knit the blend of hardware, software and services into something cohesive is a story not yet written.
The niggling irony to this is that Picahai’s name was floated as a potential CEO candidate for Microsoft. Instead, an internal candidate got that job, and Pichai has now received a nearly-similar size boost in internal profile at his parent company.
Anyone want to lay bets on who the next CEO of Google will be? That’s if Pichai succeeds at his task, of course.