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Google Loses Top Hardware Executive It Poached From Amazon

David Foster, a marquee hire working on Pixel and other devices, has left after six months.

David Foster, a key executive Google recruited from Amazon.com Inc. in October as part of its aggressive hardware effort, has left the company. 

A Google spokeswoman confirmed Foster’s departure, but declined to comment further. At Amazon, he led development of Kindle tablets, the Echo voice-activated speaker and other devices. He was a marquee hire for Alphabet Inc.’s Google, made just as the internet search giant unfurled the first wave of its own branded devices. Foster didn’t immediately respond to a LinkedIn message seeking comment.

At Google, Foster stepped into a new role, vice president of hardware product development, working on the company’s Pixel smartphone and Home speaker, an Echo competitor. His sudden exit marks a setback for Google’s gadget ambitions — the company is planning to release at least two new Pixel smartphone models this fall, according to a person familiar with the company’s plans, who asked not to be identified discussing private matters.

The hardware division also competes with Apple Inc., Amazon and other companies building devices tied to intelligent software, like digital assistants, that could upend existing models for media and advertising — markets that Google now leads.

A Jefferies LLC report this week said hardware “should be a meaningful revenue driver” for Alphabet. The company, which reports first-quarter earnings Thursday, doesn’t break out device sales.

Foster had reported to Rick Osterloh, the former Motorola executive Google hired last year. Google isn’t planning to replace Foster, a person familiar with the company’s plans said. Before Amazon, Foster worked at hardware groups at Microsoft Corp. and Apple. 

Earlier this week,  German publication WinFuture reported that it uncovered evidence of three planned Google devices in Android code information online.

–With assistance from Ian King.

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