Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Does Google Hire Of Apple Exec Show Hardware Ambitions?

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 9, 2012

Richard Waters, West Coast Managing Editor for the Financial Times, analyzes news that Google has hired Apple executive Simon Prakash, senior director of product integrity.

Key hires are one of the few ways to trace its strategic moves in advance: its 2005 hire of Andy Rubin, a smartphone pioneer, was the first sign of the ambitious Android mobile software push that followed.

...But does it really want to trade one of the most profitable business models around to get into the low-margin consumer electronics market?

Google’s hardware hire must move fast to catch Apple -

Indeed, this move might be an important signal that Google's $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola wasn't just for its extensive patent portfolio and coming legal battles but for its hardware manufacturing expertise too.

However, there might be another explanation: to weaken criticism of a secret agreement between the two companies not to poach executives from each other. A Department of Justice investigation forced a settlement with Google, Apple, and other large Silicon Valley firms to end staff poaching restrictions.

Electronista recently published court documents that reveal details of the anti-poaching agreements.

The Google hire could simply show that the company is abiding by its settlement with the DOJ and as an insurance policy to avoid civil lawsuits.

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