Android co-founder Andy Rubin is leaving Google, robotics division now under new leadership

andyrubin

Android co-founder Andy Rubin is leaving Google, according to the Wall Street Journal. Rubin joined Google when the company bought Android and most recently headed up the new robotics division. That division will reportedly remain intact under the leadership of James Kuffner, who is currently a member of that team.

The change was confirmed by CEO Larry Page. The Wall Street Journal reports that Rubin is planning to launch an incubator for startups that focus on creating high-tech hardware.

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Is Android the real target of latest Apple vs Samsung patent battle that starts today?

Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

Pieces in the NY Times and the WSJ suggest that the real target of Apple’s second courtroom patent battle with Samsung may be Android.

Some features in Samsung devices that Apple objects to are part of Google’s Android operating system, by far the most popular mobile operating system worldwide, running on more than a billion devices made by many manufacturers. That means that if Apple wins, Google could have to make changes to critical Android features, and Samsung and other Android phone makers might have to modify the software on their phones …

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Google confirms plans to acquire artificial intelligence firm DeepMind, reports indicate $400m or $500m price

terminator

First they created self-driving (and maybe flying) cars. Then they created a new robotics division and put Android’s Andy Rubin in charge. And who could forget that they recently bought Boston Dynamics, the firm responsible for several DARPA-funded robotics projects?

Now, Re/code reports that Google is planning to purchase DeepMind, a London-based AI company that specializes in games and e-commerce algorithms. While Google could possibly put the company’s work on e-commerce to good use, Re/code indicates that Google is likely acquiring the firm for its talent, not so much for its technology. The site pegs the purchase price at round $400 million, but The Information says the number is actually closer to $500 million.

Just what does Google plan to do with all of these purchases? Some have previously speculated that the company is working on an intelligent delivery system to rival Amazon’s futuristic delivery drones. Andy Rubin has said that he has an interest in revolutionizing industries that have not yet been impacted by the precision of robotics technology, such as the assembly of electronics.

Or maybe they just want an army of terminators. But hey, who wouldn’t?

The iPhone forced Google to start over … or not, depending who you believe

The HTC Dream: the first Android handset to go on sale
The HTC Dream: the first Android handset to go on sale, a year after the iPhone

A pithy quote from a Google engineer working on Android on the day the iPhone was launched has been doing the rounds today.

As a consumer I was blown away. I wanted one immediately. But as a Google engineer, I thought ‘We’re going to have to start over.

The quote, attributed to Google engineer Chris DeSalvo, appears in Chapter 2 of Fred Vogelstein’s Dogfight: How Apple and Google went to war and started a revolution. It suggests that Google had to abandon a Blackberry-style smartphone in favor of a touchscreen one in direct response to the iPhone. This is seemingly supported by Android boss Andy Rubin reportedly saying in response to the webcast of the iPhone launch: “Holy crap, I guess we’re not going to ship that phone.”

There’s just one small problem with this version of events – it may not be entirely accurate …  Read more

Google acquires Boston Dynamics, jumps headfirst into robotics development

The New York Times reports that Google has just acquired Boston Dynamics, the robotics firm that created machines such as Petman (seen in the video above) and other mechanical terrors wonders that look as close to something out of the Terminator movies as we’ve seen yet.

The buyout comes on the heels of the revelation that the company is planning a move into the robotics industry with Android co-creator Andy Rubin at the helm. Boston Dynamics’ resources and engineers will make an invaluable addition to Google’s growing collection of robotics experts.

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Steve Jobs went all Steve Jobs on Andy Rubin, calling him a “big, arrogant f***”

Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs points to a member of the audience during a Q&A session at the end of the iPhone OS4 special event at Apple headquarters in Cupertino

Steve Jobs isn’t exactly a man known for keeping his thoughts to himself which is why excerpts found by Business Insider from a new book documenting the Google-Apple smartphone war are grabbing attention. According to the book written by Fred Vogelstein, Google was already working on its first Android-powered smartphone when Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007.

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Google TV gets updated to latest 4.2.2 Jellybean, will see quicker updates and allow secure content

Lost in the shuffle of today’s events is that Google TV is getting significant updates today.

Today, Google TV is moving to the latest version of Android (Jelly Bean, 4.2.2), and we’ve refactored Google TV so that our TV OEM partners can update to future versions of Android in a matter of weeks rather than months. For developers, this means you can build TV experiences using the latest Android APIs, including the NDK.

Today Google TV is also moving to the latest version of Chrome, and from now on Google TV benefits from Chrome updates on the same six week cycle that you’ve come to expect from Chrome. In Chrome on Google TV, we’ve added support for hardware-based content protection, enabling developers to provide premium TV content in HD within their web apps.

Google TV has always been a(t least a) generation behind Android phones and you have to wonder if Andy Rubin’s move away from Android is allowing the YouTube group that runs GoogleTV more access to core Android features. Word on the Street is that Rubin and YouTube boss “couldn’t be in the same room together”.

Speaking of YouTube, the GoogleTV Youtube App got a facelift today with the following additions:

- New home screen interface.
- Enhanced video playback controls.
- Support for paid subscriptions.

Update: LG is on board. Press release and 4.2.2 demo below Read more

Google begins cutting an additional 10 percent of Motorola workforce, around 1,200 employees

Google-MotorolaWe heard in October that Google had plans to further reduce Motorola’s workforce after cutting around 20 percent, or roughly 4,000 jobs, in August. The Wall Street Journal reported today on an email from Google that confirmed the company is beginning to cut around 1,200 employees (a little over 10 percent of its current total headcount):

Motorola MSI -0.74% staffers were informed by the company via email this week that “while we’re very optimistic about the new products in our pipeline, we still face challenges.” The company email added that “our costs are too high, we’re operating in markets where we’re not competitive and we’re losing money.”

As for where the cuts might take place, we previously reported that Motorola, which was unprofitable for 14 of its last 16 quarters, planned to reduce its operations in Asia and India, but today’s report said the layoffs would hit workers in the United States, China, and India. Google also warned that further restructuring might be necessary and significant costs could be involved.

In a recent piece from The Wall Street Journal highlighting Google executives’ fear that Samsung is gaining too much dominance, Android chief Andy Rubin said the purchase of Motorola was “a kind of insurance policy against a manufacturer such as Samsung gaining too much power over Android.”

WSJ: Google execs worried by Samsung’s success with Android

Samsung-Galaxy-S3While Google might be happy with the mobile ad revenue Samsung brings in shipping roughly 40 percent of the devices running Android, The Wall Street Journal said Google execs worry behind closed doors that Samsung could use its dominance to renegotiate its cut of revenue from mobile ads and search:

Google executives worry that Samsung has become so big—the South Korean company sells about 40% of the gadgets that use Google’s Android software—that it could flex its muscle to renegotiate their arrangement and eat into Google’s lucrative mobile-ad business, people familiar with the matter said.

Citing its usual “people familiar with the matter,” WSJ claimed executives at Google are betting on companies like HTC and HP to release compelling Android devices that compete with Samsung. According to the report, Android chief Andy Rubin discussed the situation at a recent event for Google executives. He described Motorola as “a kind of insurance policy against a manufacturer such as Samsung gaining too much power over Android.” Read more

Andy Rubin announces 500M Android activations to date ahead of tomorrow’s iPhone 5 event

Are you ready for the latest breakdown of Android’s performance ahead of Apple’s iPhone 5 event tomorrow afternoon? Android boss Andy Rubin just announced this evening that 500 million Android devices have been activated to date, which follows Eric Schmidt’s announcement of 480,000 devices last week. Rubin reiterated Schmidt’s announcement, claiming 1.3 million Android devices are being activated daily (70,000 of which are tablets). Last week, we calculated Google could hit a whopping 1 billion devices activated in a year’s time at its current growth. Tonight’s announcement was definitely interesting timing.

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The verdict is in: Android did not infringe upon Oracle’s patents

A jury decided this morning that Google did not infringe upon Oracle’s patents.

The verdict came unanimously as jurors in the Google vs. Oracle trial found six claims in U.S. Patent RE38,104, including two claims in U.S. Patent number 6,061,520, did not infringe.

“Today’s jury verdict that Android does not infringe Oracle’s patents was a victory not just for Google but the entire Android ecosystem,” announced Google in a public statement, according to CNET.

Oh, and here is Oracle’s public statement on the decision: “Oracle presented overwhelming evidence at trial that Google knew it would fragment and damage Java. We plan to continue to defend and uphold Java’s core write once run anywhere principle and ensure it is protected for the nine million Java developers and the community that depend on Java compatibility.”

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Google vs Oracle bits: Original Google Phone, Android revs, and $10 data plan

There is a lot of interesting news coming out of the Google v. Oracle Java trial today. Yesterday, former CEO Eric Schmidt gave his testimony to the court, and today Andy Rubin took the stand where he revealed a slide deck with Google’s ambitions to sell 10 million Android tablets during 2011 and other pieces of information related to Android revenue.

On-hand reports from The Verge point us to a few of the more intriguing statements made by Rubin and others today:

Google Phone:

The image above is of the “original Google phone” concept presented to carriers almost two years before Google finally launched the first Android handset, the T-Mobile G1. The images of the device came up in the trial due to references to Java in the designs. A year later, in May 2007, almost a year after iPhone, Google was still designing Android with a physical keyboard in mind—as noted in Android specification documents during the trial.

Android Revenue:

First, we get a close look at Android revenue numbers for the first time. The numbers come from a quarterly report given by Rubin and others in 2010 that show the company expected revenue from Android to reach $278.1 million during the year.

The forecast was based on increasing the roughly 20 million Android phones in the market at the time to 40 million by the end of the year. Google was also expecting to pull in $158.9 million in Android ad revenue and just $3.8 million from its 30 percent cut of app sales. According to the report, Google forecasted bringing in $840.2 million from Android ads and $35.9m from app sales in 2012.

Subsidized unlimited data plans:

Another interesting document that emerged from the trial shows Google suggested to T-Mobile in 2006 that it would give up its finder’s fee commission for new customers in order to provide Android phones with $10 monthly unlimited data plans. Of course, that plan was never carried out, and the original Android T-Mobile G1 launched with the conventional $25+ plans.