Top Google Android Engineer Goes to Coupons Inc., Android to Other Devices

The Wall Street Journal is running a story this morning that is interesting for a couple of reasons. The basic news is that the senior Android engineer, Steven Horowitz, has been hired by Coupons Inc.:

Mr. Horowitz was recruited in February 2006 by Andy Rubin, the Google executive who has spearheaded Android, as one of the first engineers to work on the project. He said in an interview, that after “spending so much time and energy” on the effort it was a good time to move on. Mr. Horowitz added that he was also attracted by the fact that the worsening economy has accelerated business at Coupons, which also operates a Web coupon site for consumers. The company plans to hire 40 new employees by the end of the February, he said.

This is a very interesting choice for Horowitz, to move from arguably a cutting-edge project to one that is probably quite a bit more mundane in most respects. Nonetheless, coupons are much beloved by consumers and especially so in this bad economy. It's a giant market offline; yet, coupons have never really hit their stride online despite their early presence on the Internet.

Partly the lack of "inventory" or the easy ability to find them and partly manufacturers and retailers' fears about fraud have held back coupons' advance in the digital world. Surely their (economic) moment has arrived. We'll see what happens over the course of the next couple years and whether they truly take off online and in mobile or continue making incremental steps. (Here's all my past writing about coupons at Screenwerk.)

The other interesting thing to me about the piece was the confirmation that Android is being readied and used for devices other than cellphones:

After focusing on releasing the first version of the software late last year, the engineers are shifting their focus towards making the software work with a greater variety of phones and devices. Mr. Horowitz added that he is aware of companies trying to translate Android — whose software is open source, making it easier to customize — to devices that aren’t phones, like netbooks (a new breed of low-end portable computers), or televisions, but declined to go into details.

This essentially confirms an earlier report that Android would be on so-called netbooks within a year.