Well, here it is. I’ve been saying for 18 months now that Fuchsia clearly felt like a whole lot more than “just” a research operating system, and that I believed its developers’ ultimate goal is to replace Android, which is a dead end. This Bloomberg article by the usually well-informed Mark Gurman is the clearest indication yet that such is, indeed, the end goal.
But members of the Fuchsia team have discussed a grander plan that is being reported here for the first time: Creating a single operating system capable of running all the company’s in-house gadgets, like Pixel phones and smart speakers, as well as third-party devices that now rely on Android and another system called Chrome OS, according to people familiar with the conversations.
According to one of the people, engineers have said they want to embed Fuchsia on connected home devices, such as voice-controlled speakers, within three years, then move on to larger machines such as laptops. Ultimately the team aspires to swap in their system for Android, the software that powers more than three quarters of the world’s smartphones, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. The aim is for this to happen in the next half decade, one person said.
CEO Sundar Pichai hasn’t signed off on all of this just yet, so it’s by no means 100% guaranteed – and a lot can change in five years. That being said, it’s getting easier and easier to see which way the wind’s blowing.
There’s also reports of Fuchsia’s security and privacy oriented design getting in conflict with Google’s ad-driven business model.
The company must also settle some internal feuds. Some of the principles that Fuchsia creators are pursuing have already run up against Google’s business model. Google’s ads business relies on an ability to target users based on their location and activity, and Fuchsia’s nascent privacy features would, if implemented, hamstring this important business. There’s already been at least one clash between advertising and engineering over security and privacy features of the fledgling operating system, according to a person familiar with the matter. The ad team prevailed, this person said.
It’s sad to hear that, but in the end, not exactly surprising.