Former Google engineer quits the company because it can no longer innovate, but his criticisms apply to most of Google’s competitors

In a Medium post, former Google engineer Steve Yegge has said he left the company because it can no longer innovate and most Google launches over the last decade have been the result of copying a competitor.

In his blog post, Yegge puts the lack of innovation down to Google incentivising successful feature and product launches, and the easiest and safest way to produce those is by “copying competitors”

He also wrote that Google has become so focused on protecting what they’ve got, that they fear risk-taking and real innovation.

“You can look at Google’s entire portfolio of launches over the past decade, and trace nearly all of them to copying a competitor: Google+ (Facebook), Google Cloud (AWS), Google Home (Amazon Echo), Allo (WhatsApp), Android Instant Apps (Facebook, WeChat), Google Assistant (Apple/Siri), and on and on and on,” wrote Yegge.

“They are stuck in me-too mode and have been for years. They simply don’t have innovation in their DNA any more. And it’s because their eyes are fixed on their competitors, not their customers.”

Image courtesy of Maurizio Pesce. Featured image courtesy of MariaX / Shutterstock.com

The criticisms Yegge levels at Google could be written about any of its major competitors, such as Facebook – who Yegge accuses of getting “most of its “innovations” from acquisitions” – and Apple, who Yegge simply refers to as “meh”.

On February 9, Apple will launch its HomePod, but with a $349 price tag, the fact that it only works with Apple Music and established alternatives like Amazon’s Alexa and Goggle Home being on the market for a while, it’s not exactly innovative.

“The big name-brand tech companies are almost all operating in the Seattle area, but I think they mostly suffer from the same big-company problems,” wrote Yegge.

Yegge has decided to join Grab, a Singaporian ride-hailing app, and said that for a while he has been coming round to the idea that “you can only really get inspiration from startups these days”.

But Yegge’s parting blog post isn’t the first time he has poured scorn on Google’s lack of imagination.

Seven years ago, he took aim at Google for its failure to understand software platforms, with Google+ serving as his whipping boy that time around.

Check out Yegge’s full Medium post here.

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Skydio unveils its obstacle-dodging, thrill-seeking, AI-powered drone

An autonomous drone startup founded by former MIT researchers has today launched its R1, a fully autonomous flying camera that follows its subjects through dense and challenging environments.

In a promotional video, launched to introduce the autonomous camera, R1 can be seen following an athlete as she parkours her way through dense woodland.

The drone’s makers Skydio have explained that the camera combines artificial intelligence, computer vision, and advanced robotics and works by anticipating how people move, so R1 can make intelligent decisions about how to get the smoothest, most cinematic footage in real-time.

“The promise of the self-flying camera has captured people’s imaginations, but today’s drones still need to be flown manually for them to be useful,” said Adam Bry, CEO and co-founder of Skydio.

“We’ve spent the last four years solving the hard problems in robotics and AI necessary to make fully autonomous flight possible. We’re incredibly excited about the creative possibilities with R1, and we also believe that this technology will enable many of the most valuable drone applications for consumers and businesses over the coming years.”

Launching today is the Frontier Edition of R1, which is aimed at athletes, adventurers, and creators.

This version of R1 is powered by the Skydio Autonomy Engine, enabling it to see and understand the world around it so that it can fly safely at speeds of upto 25mph while avoiding obstacles.

The autonomous drone is fitted with 13 cameras, which gives it the ability to map and understand the world in real-time, allowing it to be fully autonomous and independently capture footage that in Skydio’s words “once required a Hollywood film crew” and will “enable a new type of visual storytelling”.

The R1 “Frontier Edition” is available for order now on Skydio’s website for $2,499.