Surprise Shakeup At Google: Pichai To Replace Rubin As Android Chief
March 14, 2013

Android Chief Andy Rubin Hands Over Reins To Sundar Pichai

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

In a surprising move, Google announced on Wednesday that it has replaced Android division chief Andy Rubin with Sundar Pichai, a nine-year Google veteran who works on the Chrome Web browser and operating system.

"Going forward, Sundar Pichai will lead Android, in addition to his existing work with Chrome and Apps,” wrote Google´s Chief Executive Officer, Larry Page, in a blog post on Wednesday.

“Sundar has a talent for creating products that are technically excellent yet easy to use -- and he loves a big bet,” Page wrote.

Page said Pichai would be "doubling down on Android,” which could suggest Google may be considering unifying the Android and Chrome platforms.

Indeed, moving toward a more unified ecosystem has been an important focus for Google. Such a move would likely help the company address security concerns while helping developers create apps for the system.

Page did not disclose which new position Rubin will assume at Google, but indicated he would be working on innovative projects. Some have speculated that Rubin might move over to the Google X research division, which is developing the company´s self-driving cars, Google Glass and other leading edge products.

“Andy´s decided it´s time to hand over the reins and start a new chapter at Google,” Page wrote. “Andy, more moonshots please!”

Rubin joined Google in 2004, when the Internet search giant acquired his Android startup company.

Rubin “believed that aligning standards around an open-source operating system would drive innovation across the mobile industry,” Page wrote.

“Most people thought he was nuts. But his insight immediately struck a chord because at the time it was extremely painful developing services for mobile devices. We had a closet full of more than 100 phones and were building our software pretty much device-by-device. It was nearly impossible for us to make truly great mobile experiences.”

Rubin´s accomplishments while at Google are difficult to overstate. Under his leadership, Android grew to become the world´s dominant smartphone platform, capturing 70 percent of global market share amid a fierce battle with Apple.

At the same time, Pichai has overseen Chrome´s growth to become one of the top three Internet browsers worldwide.

Shares of Google´s stock fell slightly on Wednesday, closing at just over $825. The company´s shares have risen rapidly in recent months, reaching an all-time high earlier this month.

"It does make sense when you see where Chrome is heading and where Android is heading. Why would you want different operating systems?" said BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis according to Jessica Guynn of the LA Times. "Android is for phones and tablets and Chrome is for something closer to PCs. It would be ideal for Google to standardize. Now you have both functionalities under the same guy. We'll see what he does. He had better not screw it up. Android is a big success right now."