Android Mastermind Rubin to Turn His Thoughts Elsewhere

Andy Rubin, the man who helped maneuver Android into the No. 1 mobile OS position, is stepping down as head of Android at Google.

Taking Rubin’s place will be browser and applications chief Sundar Pichai. The reshuffling effectively folds Google’s mobile OS, applications and Chrome browser into one operation.

The Man Behind Android

Google CEO Larry Page has credited Rubin for making Android what it is today. Rubin introduced Page and cofounder Sergey Brin to the platform when he visited the company in 2004.

“He believed that aligning standards around an open source operating system would drive innovation across the mobile industry,” Page wrote in a blog post. “Most people thought he was nuts.”

Today, Google has global partnerships with more than 60 manufacturers for Android. Android has been activated on more than 750 million devices globally, and 25 billion apps have been downloaded from Google Play.

Rubin will be staying at Google in a role that is so far undefined — at least to the public. He likely can write his own ticket, either at Google or another company.

Google did not respond to our request for further details.

Whither Android?

It’s unclear where Android is now headed under Pichai’s helm — and Chrome, for that matter, now that the two divisions are merging.

One possibility is that Google wants to see Android progress in a more orderly fashion going forward, similar to the track that Chrome has taken.

Android “has been driven into the market by Google’s partners and the development community,” noted Charles King, principal at Pund-IT.

“It may be that Google has decided that it wants a more linear growth path for Android, and the success of Chrome is what they want to replicate,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Chrome has been making steady inroads in the browser market, surpassing Internet Explorer last year on the global market.

“In 2008, people asked whether the world really needed another browser,” Page noted.

Its next big hill to climb — interestingly, given the executive reshuffling — is the mobile browser market. Recent figures from Net Applications suggest it is starting to make a dent there as well.

“Both Chrome and Android have succeeded beyond the initial expectations of many in the market,” King said. “What will be important is how Google manages their next stage of growth.”

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