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Google XR software lead quits, heavily criticizes company on way out
- The Google XR software development leader, Mark Lucovsky, has abruptly left the company.
- Lucovsky criticized Google’s “unstable commitment and vision” in the space.
- The XR team was blended into two other divisions, the same that oversee smartphones, wearables, etc.
The launch of Apple’s XR headset, known as the Vision Pro, has thrown the industry into chaos. Allegedly, Samsung slapped a significant delay on launching an XR headset it’s working on. At the same time, Meta tried to outgun Apple by launching the Meta Quest 3 right before Apple unveiled the Vision Pro.
It appears the Vision Pro lightning rod has hit Google XR teams, too. According to a self-penned tweet, Senior Director of Engineering — responsible for OS and Software Platform for AR and XR devices — Mark Lucovsky has left Google (h/t 9to5Google). In the tweet, Lucovsky slammed the door on the way out, metaphorically:
I have decided to step away from my role at Google, where I was Senior Director of Engineering, responsible for OS and Software Platform for AR and XR devices. The recent changes in AR leadership and Google’s unstable commitment and vision have weighed heavily on my decision.— mark lucovsky (@marklucovsky) July 10, 2023
If you can’t see the embedded tweet above, Lucovsky cites “Google’s unstable commitment and vision” as one of the bigger reasons why he decided to quit. Those are strong words and make it clear that his departure was not amicable.
Google XR lead leaves the company
We don’t know much about Google’s AR/VR ambitions. We know that Google and Samsung are working together to create…something. The two companies made an announcement as such during the launch of the Galaxy S23 series. From what we understand, Android is the basis for this particular project.
We also know that Google has a team of people working on software related to XR systems and that software is likely not based on Android. It is unclear if these teams are one and the same or involve a lot of overlap. One thing we do know now is that Lucovsky’s former team has been merged under the two divisions that oversee the Made by Google products. To be clear, that’s Hiroshi Lockheimer’s software team (Android, Chrome OS, etc.) and Rick Osterloh’s hardware team.
It’s also unclear how much of a setback Lucovsky’s departure is for whatever Google is planning. Judging from the quick shift of Lucovsky’s team into other divisions, it’s possible Google was as unhappy with Lucovsky as he apparently was with the company. That would be a likely explanation for Google’s movement of the team rather than promoting someone else to replace Lucovsky.
Either way, Lucovsky’s statement makes it clear that things aren’t going so smoothly with Google’s XR ambitions.