In the face of a doctrine aimed at continuity, Google still maintains that it doesn’t plan to merge Chrome OS and Android. My reaction to this is simple: that doesn’t make sense for a number of reasons. First off, why wouldn’t you? Chrome OS is a light, web-based experience focused on mobility and flexibility. Android is a mobile OS with enough chops to (minimally) produce as well as consume. With the state of Android phones (larger, powerful and now 64-bit) It doesn’t seem to make much sense to keep things separate. Microsoft is moving toward “One” OS (it’s just Windows now folks) and is going all in with its branding and strategy. Apple is focusing on continuity as well but has some of the same protestation around keeping iOS and OSX separate as well. I’m a little shocked that it’s actually Microsoft that has committed most to unification.
A little over a week ago, reports started to spread that Hiroshi Lockheimer, VP of engineering for Android, would begin to supervise engineering on Chrome OS as well. Last Friday, Google announced that senior VP Sundar Pichai would also expand his reach to include more of the company’s most important products and services. The reorg signals Google’s dedication to increased unity between its operating systems, but the company says otherwise.
“There’s no plans to change the way the products work,” said Brian Rakowski, VP of product management for Android. He goes on to confirm Lockheimer’s move, stating that “some of the Chrome OS teams are moving under Hiroshi. Turns out they’re solving similar problems.”
It sounds like Google is going to focus on Android 5.0 for the foreseeable future, but the pieces are in place for something bigger in the coming months. I have a feeling this is more about immediate prioritization than end-game. Isn’t it always?