Senior Apple QA director poached by Google for... secret project?

Sounds like Google has hired away Simon Prakash, formerly Apple's senior director of product integrity, to work on a "secret project" deep in the heart of the Googleplex. Reports VentureBeat:

Simon Prakash worked at Apple for more than eight years and was most recently the senior director of product integrity at Apple, according to his LinkedIn page. That means he was responsible for product quality across all of Apple’s products, from iPhones to Macs. Apple has the best reputation for product quality, according to consumer satisfaction surveys by J.D. Power.

The hiring is notable for a couple of reasons. First, Apple and Google had an infamous no-poaching pact in place for many years, a gentlemanly if potentially actionable agreement not to actively solicit or hire each other's talent. The U.S. Justice Department is still investigating the arrangement on the grounds it unfairly limited employee work options and compensation. Combined with the strains in Apple and Google's relationship, that agreement seems no longer to be in place.

Second, it shows Google is continuing to evolve into a company that values design and polish as much as features and engineering. The knock on Google used to be that their stuff worked great but wasn't much to look at -- that it felt designed by committee and that no one had tried using it before it shipped. Over the last year they've given facelifts to all their major online properties, and it looks like they're only getting started.

With Prakash's hire, the burning question is, what "secret project" will he be working on? He's a hardware guy in a company that's so far been content to let partners like Samsung, HTC, and Motorola make all their hardware. Google is in the process of buying Motorola, but claims they'll be running it as a separate business. Merely helping oversee the quality of partner hardware doesn't seem that "secret" however.

With co-founder Sergei Brin running all sorts of experimental initiatives over at Google, it really doesn't have to be phones or tablets -- it could be flying saucers. But it kinda has to be phones and tablets, right?

Source: VentureBeat