Significant job cuts at Google amidst strategic shift

Google has laid off hundreds of employees in its hardware, voice assistance, and engineering teams as part of cost-cutting measures. The cuts come as the company aims to invest responsibly in its priorities, facing completition with tech giants like Microsoft and Apple.

Buisinessman holding google logo

Google has initiated a significant round of layoffs affecting hundreds of employees across its hardware, voice-assistance, and engineering teams. The move is part of cost-cutting measures, with Google stating its commitment to ‘responsibly investing in our company’s biggest priorities and the significant opportunities ahead.’ The augmented reality hardware division is most impacted, aligning with Google’s ongoing efforts to streamline its operations.

The reduction in AR and VR divisions aligns with a broader industry trend observed in major tech companies. The main reason behind this is the low adoption among users of these devices.

Read more in Diplo’s 2023 reflections.

These cuts follow earlier announcements by Google and its parent company, Alphabet, to reduce costs. Approximately a year ago, Google announced plans to lay off 12,000 employees, constituting about 6% of its workforce. The recent layoffs target engineering, hardware, and assistant roles.

On the same day as the layoffs, Google announced the deprecation of Google Assistant’s 17 ‘underutilised’ features, which include functions like playing audiobooks, sending emails, or starting meditation sessions with Calm via voice command. The Alphabet Workers Union criticised these job cuts as ‘another round of needless layoffs,’ expressing concern over the company’s ongoing workforce reductions despite consistent profitability.

Google’s record growth during the pandemic’s early days has prompted adjustments in its business predictions, mirroring a broader trend in the tech industry, with Meta, Spotify, and Amazon also implementing substantial job cuts to optimise costs and enhance profitability.

Why does it matter?

In the race for AI supremacy, Google faces intense competition with Microsoft, a rivalry heightened by Google’s ongoing organisational changes. Microsoft has elevated its AI portfolio to directly challenge Google, unveiling innovative features such as Copilot in September 2023. This strategic response underscores the escalating competition between these tech giants vying for supremacy in the rapidly evolving AI field. The ongoing organisational shifts at Google and Microsoft’s proactive measures highlight the intense quest for dominance and technological leadership in the tech field, even more rapidly than it’s been predicted for 2024.