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Q&A: What's going on at Google, and what is Alphabet?

Here's your low-down on what's happening with Google

GOOGLE has announced a surprise re-structuring of the company that has seen it create a new holding company called Alphabet – with every business within the tech giant now organised underneath this umbrella.

It’s all part of a plan to be “cleaner and more accountable” according to the founders, and part of this has seen them “slim down” Google as a business, as well as appointing new CEOs as the company looks to create a clearer hierarchy.

What is the new structure?

Alphabet is now the holding company for a collection of businesses; the biggest of which is Google, now consisting just of its major products such as the search engine, Google Play, YouTube, Chrome, Google Maps and Android.

The rest of Google’s various business ventures, including the X Lab from which its more far-fetched ideas come from; including driverless cars and Google Glass, have been stripped away and are now going to be contained as independent firms in Alphabet instead.

Who is in charge of Alphabet?

Google co-founder Larry Page is stepping up to be CEO of Alphabet, with his partner Sergey Brin taking on the role of President. The now former head of Android, Sundar Pichai, has been made the new CEO of Google to replace Page.

Why is Google doing this?

Those within the industry believe that not only is the internet giant doing this to offer more clarity on the different areas of its business – earnings reports will now be delivered for each business individually – but also to give more breathing space to its more ambitious projects, something co-founders Page and Brin are said to be keen on.

Will we see any major changes in everyday use?

This is unlikely – the major products that most Google users encounter every day, such as Search, Chrome and YouTube, are staying under the Google umbrella, so there shouldn’t be any change in how they run from a consumer perspective.

What other companies are part of Alphabet?

Larry Page confirmed that the Life Sciences department of Google – which is working on smart contact lenses – is one of the businesses moving to Alphabet to become more “independent”. The X Lab is part of Alphabet too, and this includes Google’s more left field projects, such as Project Loon – the idea of using weather balloons to beam internet signal to remote parts of the Earth, as well as Wing, the firm’s drone delivery project. Google Glass is also likely to be moved to Alphabet, with the driverless car project, with Page explaining the aim was to let these businesses flourish by becoming more independent.

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