A threat hangs over Google's (very) special operating system
According to the New York Times, Google has reduced the staff of the team developing the Fuchsia OS by 16%.
The series of staff reductions that began in 2022 in the new technologies sector continues in 2023. And after Amazon and Microsoft, it was Google who recently announced a staff reduction that affects 12,000 employees, or 6 % of headcount. Like other tech companies, Google has hired a lot since it experienced a period of strong growth during the health crisis, and just after. However, due to worsening macroeconomic conditions in 2022, Google needs to cut costs.
“Over the past two years, we have experienced periods of spectacular growth. To support and fuel this growth, we have hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today,” Sundar Pichai explains in a memo to employees. However, this reduction in staff does not affect all departments of Google in the same way. And obviously, the development of the Fuchsia OS operating system is one of the projects heavily affected.
Fushia OS in the background?
According to an article in the New York Times, Google has indeed reduced the staff of the team that develops Fuchsia OS by 16%, while the average reduction within the company is 6%. The team, which had 400 employees, would therefore be very lean. And if this info is not official, the fact that Google has greatly reduced the team responsible for the development of Fuchsia OS gives an idea of the place this operating system occupies in the hierarchy of Google products.
As a reminder, Fushia is a mysterious operating system that Google has been developing for several years. One of its peculiarities is that it is not based on the Linux kernel, unlike Android. Google has also developed this OS so that it can be compatible with a variety of form factors, including smartphones, computers, but also home connected screens.
As a result, rumors once suggested that Google might replace Android on smartphones or Chrome OS on computers with Fuchsia. But in 2019, Android chief Hiroshi Lockheimer explained that Google doesn't see Fuchsia as a replacement for Android or Chrome OS. “That’s not how we see it. We see it as a kind of place where we can try new ideas”, he explained.
Is Google going to bet more on AI?
Note that a significant reduction in the number of Fichsia OS developers does not necessarily mean that Google is about to abandon this operating system. It only suggests that other projects are considered more important by the firm's executives. And precisely, in his note to employees, Sundar Pichai gives an idea of what should be prioritized by the Mountain View firm in the short term.
In this note, the CEO of Google recalls that a few years ago the company already made a pivot to put artificial intelligence at the forefront. Thanks to this decision, AI is everywhere on Google's products. “Thanks to these early investments, Google's products are better than ever. And we're preparing to share entirely new experiences for users, developers, and businesses alike. We have a substantial opportunity ahead of us with AI in our products and we are ready to tackle it boldly and responsibly”, says the CEO.
As a reminder, in 2022, tech was shaken up by the launch of ChatGPT-3, OpenAI's chatbot. This artificial intelligence is so powerful that according to some observers, it could replace the Google search engine. And Microsoft is getting closer to OpenAI. According to rumors, Google has also declared a “red code” and currently, we are awaiting the firm's response to this AI.
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