LAGOS, Nigeria (VOICE OF NAIJA) –Amazon is set to hire Panos Panay, Microsoft’s departing product chief, to lead the division overseeing the voice-activated Alexa assistant and Echo smart speakers.
Panos Panay, who has nearly two decades of experience at Microsoft and previously led the Windows team, recently announced his departure from the tech giant.
Dave Limp, Amazon’s long-serving hardware chief, had previously disclosed his intention to retire by the end of the year.
Both Amazon and Microsoft have declined to comment on the matter. Amazon is preparing for its annual new devices event, where the devices unit, responsible for products like Fire TV streaming sticks, tablets, and Kindle e-readers, will be featured.
Last year, this unit faced layoffs as Amazon adapted to slower growth and discontinued certain projects.
Microsoft is also expected to unveil new hardware models and artificial intelligence features at an event in New York.
Panos Panay’s move represents the latest in a series of senior executive exchanges between Amazon and Microsoft.
Two years ago, Microsoft hired Charlie Bell, a senior Amazon cloud executive, to lead its cybersecurity efforts.
This move initially raised concerns about a potential lawsuit due to Bell’s non-compete agreement with Amazon, but an agreement was reached to allow the transition.
A year ago, Microsoft eliminated non-compete clauses from new employment agreements and stopped enforcing them in existing contracts, except for its highest-ranking employees.
In recent years, the company has not sought to prevent such moves.
Panos Panay, who began as the general manager for Surface when Microsoft introduced its initial tablets in 2012, expanded the Surface line into laptops, desktops, and accessories.
Microsoft has since scaled back the Surface operation, cutting staff and discontinuing slow-selling products.
Panay had also overseen the HoloLens mixed-reality goggles project since 2022, which faced difficulties, partly due to a delayed contract with the US Army.
In contrast, Amazon has built a substantial consumer electronics business over the past decade, primarily focused on selling practical, budget-friendly hardware such as Echo Dot speakers, Fire sticks, and tablets.
However, its flagship product, the Alexa voice assistant, has faced challenges in expanding beyond its initial role as a companion, shopping tool, and smart home hub.
The emergence of conversational chatbots like ChatGPT, powered by generative artificial intelligence, has underscored Alexa’s limitations.
Amazon asserts that generative AI is already enhancing Alexa and plans to introduce further improvements.
Under Dave Limp’s leadership, Amazon’s devices unit has gained a reputation for launching ambitious but unfinished projects aimed at expanding Alexa’s influence and solidifying Amazon’s position in the world of connected homes.
Some recent endeavors in uncharted territories, including a home robot named Astro and an unreleased indoor drone camera developed by Amazon’s Ring division, have encountered obstacles.