Google is building a new hardware division under former Motorola chief Rick Osterloh

Rick Osterloh is coming back to Google. The former president of Motorola, who left the Lenovo-led handset maker last month, has been hired by Google to run a new division to unify the company’s disparate hardware projects, Re/code has learned.

A Google rep confirmed that Osterloh has joined the company as its newest Senior Vice President, running the new hardware product line and reporting to CEO Sundar Pichai.

For years, Google has struggled to get sure footing on its various hardware initiatives — moving delicately to handle partners and, at times, deliver products that consumers actually use. When one of its hardware chiefs, Regina Dugan, who ran its Advanced Technology and Project group, departed for Facebook, we reported that Google was plotting a hardware shake-up.

Here it is now. Osterloh will now oversee Google’s Nexus devices. His new hardware division also includes a suite of products called the “living room,” demonstrating Google’s priority on owning that space.

The new division includes:

  • Nexus: Osterloh is taking over hardware development on Google’s flagship Android phone and its OEM partnerships. He’ll work closely with Android SVP Hiroshi Lockheimer, who will now work more on software and platform development.
  • Chromecast: Google’s TV streaming stick, which is likely its best-selling hardware device. Lockheimer oversaw this.
  • Consumer hardware: This includes Chromebook laptops and the new Pixel C device, which runs on Android.
  • OnHub: The wireless home router used to belong under the Access company within Alphabet. Now it’s under Google and Osterloh.
  • ATAP: The portions of the experimental hardware lab that have not gone to Google’s virtual reality division — so, its modular phone effort, Project Ara and others — now report to Osterloh
  • Glass: The homeless Glass gets a home! Project Aura, the new team that is building the next version of the wearable headgear, among other stuff, is moving under Osterloh. Tony Fadell, Nest’s CEO, who ran Glass since it moved out of Google X last year, is staying on as an “adviser” to the team, Re/code has learned. Fadell remains the CEO of Nest, the hardware maker that is a separate Alphabet company.

For the well-regarded Osterloh, it is a return to Google employment, though it is a far broader role than his past ones.

Osterloh worked his way up the ranks at Motorola during Google’s ownership of the hardware maker, moving from head of product management to president of the business, following the exit of Dennis Woodside for Dropbox. He remained as head of Motorola following Google’s sale of the business to Lenovo, but left last month amid a broader reorganization at the Chinese hardware company.

The move could help make life easier for Google’s chip and hardware partners who have been working with different parts of the companies on different, sometimes competing efforts.

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