Microsoft Corp. Chief Product Officer Panos Panay will reportedly join Amazon.com Inc. to lead the business unit that develops Alexa and the Echo device lineup.
Bloomberg reported the development today, citing people familiar with the matter. Microsoft announced Panay’s departure a few hours earlier in a memo to employees. Yusuf Mehdi, the company’s consumer chief marketing officer, will reportedly succeed Panay as chief product officer.
Panay originally joined Microsoft in 2004 as a group product manager. Four years later, he became the general manager of the company’s Surface and PC hardware division. Microsoft launched its first Surface device, a 10.8-inch tablet called the Surface RT, in 2012.
The company’s consumer hardware portfolio expanded significantly over the subsequent years. The Surface lineup now includes not only tablets, but also a variety of other devices ranging from desktop computers to the Surface Duo 2. The product line generated $6.7 billion in revenue during Microsoft’s most recent fiscal year.
Panay was appointed chief product officer in 2018. Three years later, he became a senior vice president in a promotion that reportedly made him part of Microsoft’s senior leadership team. In this dual role, Panay oversaw not only the company’s consumer hardware business but also the development of Windows 11.
Amazon’s Echo and Alexa business was previously led by consumer technology veteran David Limp. Under Limp’s leadership, the unit developed dozens of devices, including Alexa-powered smart speakers, wearables, tablets and a household robot called Astro. In August, Amazon announced that the executive will retire by the end of the year.
The reshuffle at the consumer hardware units of Microsoft and Amazon comes as the companies both prepare to introduce their newest devices.
On Wednesday, Amazon will hold its annual Devices & Services Event. Company executives are expected to debut new Echo systems and Alexa features. During last year’s event, Limp introduced more than a half-dozen hardware products, including a new Kindle and several wireless networking systems.
Microsoft is scheduled to host a consumer electronics event of its own on Thursday, a day after Amazon. Recent reports suggest that the company is gearing up to debut two new Surface devices.
Microsoft is expected to introduce the Surface Laptop Studio 2, an upgraded iteration of its top-end Windows laptop. The machine is believed to feature Nvidia Corp.’s RTX 4060 graphics card and 64 gigabytes of RAM. Microsoft is also expected to debut a new entry-level Surface Go 4 tablet along with unspecified artificial intelligence features for consumers.
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