Google has laid off hundreds of employees across its hardware, Assistant, and AR/VR teams as part of a major company reorganization, according to multiple reports published on January 11th, 2024. The layoffs come amid slower sales of Google’s hardware products like Pixel phones and Nest devices, as well increased competition in the voice assistant space.
Hundreds Laid Off in Hardware, Assistant Divisions
As first reported by The New York Times, Google initiated significant job cuts on January 10th across various divisions. People familiar with the layoffs said between 300 to 400 people have been impacted. The hardware and Assistant divisions were hit hardest by the cuts.
The company also announced a reorganization of leadership responsibilities across its hardware products. The Verge reported that longtime executives like Fitbit co-founders James Park and Eric Friedman are leaving Google as part of the restructuring.
Other publications like 9to5Google, Bloomberg, and The Wall Street Journal have since confirmed the hundreds of layoffs across the Assistant, hardware, and AR/VR teams. The company has offered severance packages to impacted employees.
Some key details on Google layoffs:
- 300-400 estimated laid off
- Hardest hit teams: Hardware, Assistant
- Part of major reorganization
- Longtime execs leaving, like Fitbit founders
- Severance packages offered
Slowing Sales, Rising Competition Prompts Cuts
Google’s hardware division has struggled recently to gain significant market share. The company’s Pixel phones and smart home products like Nest Wifi have not kept pace with rivals like Apple and Amazon.
The voice assistant space is also becoming more competitive. Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri continue maturing, challenging Google’s Assistant. Microsoft is finding some success with Cortana integration as well.
Faced with these headwinds, Google is rethinking resource allocation across its hardware and software teams. The hundreds of layoffs allow Google to cut costs and redirect engineering talent.
Bloomberg’s report suggested these layoffs are just the start – stating the company plans to cut over 30,000 total jobs through 2024 via increased automation. But Google firmly denied this claim to Engadget saying there are no plans for additions layoffs currently.
Backdrop for the layoffs:
- Slowing hardware sales vs. rivals
- Rising competition in voice assistant space
- Redirecting resources due to headwinds
- Part of broader 2024 restructuring
- More cuts coming? Google denies further plans
What Comes Next?
While Google isn’t sharing specifics around its reorganization plans, the leadership changes suggest the company intends to streamline operations. Rather than pursue moonshot hardware projects, expect a narrower product focus going forward. Software and AI will likely take priority over niche devices.
The hundreds of layoffs indicate Google is hunkering down amid a possible recession in 2024. The tech sector in particular is cutting costs after overeager pandemic hiring. If macroeconomic headwinds continue, more industry job losses could occur.
For now, Google says it is still committed to hardware and voice assistant innovation – but leaner teams will work on sharpening the core user experiences. The company also plans to rely more heavily on outsourcing device manufacturing and use AI to bolster its Assistant.
Whether Google’s refocusing efforts pay off remains unclear. With advertising revenues slowing and rivals rapidly innovating too, the tech giant faces substantial headaches in 2024 and beyond. Trimmed down hardware and Assistant divisions now carry even more pressure to ship winning products.
What happens next:
- Streamlining operations and narrower product focus
- Software and AI become bigger priorities
- Preparing for potential 2024 recession
- Committed to hardware/Assistant - but leaner teams
- More outsourcing of manufacturing
- Relying on AI to improve Assistant
- Unclear if efforts will pay off - headaches remain
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