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Google Android boss steps down

Allan Swann
March 14, 2013

The father of Google Android, Andy Rubin, has stepped aside to allow the head of Google’s desktop operating system, Google Chrome to take over.

Andy Rubin saw Google Android rise from a minority operating system in 2004 (well before its purchase by Google in 2008) to the world’s most used smartphone operating system, with some 750 million users. His vision of an open source operating system was not popular back in 2003 (indeed, Android almost went under) but he has since been proven right.

In a letter to staff, Rubin said that he was  “an entrepreneur at heart and now is the right time for me to start a new chapter within Google.” (via WSJ)

Google CEO Larry Page had nothing but praise for Rubin (via the Google Blog).

“The pace of innovation has never been greater, and Android is the most used mobile operating system in the world: we have a global partnership of over 60 manufacturers; more than 750 million devices have been activated globally; and 25 billion apps have now been downloaded from Google Play. Pretty extraordinary progress for a decade’s work. Having exceeded even the crazy ambitious goals we dreamed of for Android-and with a really strong leadership team in place-Andy’s decided it’s time to hand over the reins and start a new chapter at Google,” he said.

“Going forward, Sundar Pichai will lead Android, in addition to his existing work with Chrome and Apps. Sundar has a talent for creating products that are technically excellent yet easy to use-and he loves a big bet. Take Chrome, for example. In 2008, people asked whether the world really needed another browser. Today Chrome has hundreds of millions of happy users and is growing fast thanks to its speed, simplicity and security. So while Andy’s a really hard act to follow, I know Sundar will do a tremendous job doubling down on Android as we work to push the ecosystem forward.”

Sundar Pichai’s appointment is an interesting one, and suggests that Google may be getting serious about knocking Microsoft Windows for six. If Google can successfully integrate Google Chrome with Android, a unified operating system would be able to run on tablets, computers and smartphones seamlessly – posing a very serious threat to Microsoft’s dominance on the desktop, and helping Google catch up with Apple in the tablet space.

As to what Rubin’s new role in Google will be – no one knows. Sergey Brin and Larry Page have been aggressively pushing Google Glass, so he may be moved to work on the apps and OS for that product.

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