Google on Wednesday announced that Andy Rubin, who was heading the company’s Android division, is stepping down. He will be replaced by Sundar Pichai, an IITian, who also heads Google’s Chrome division. “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,” Google CEO Larry Page said in a post on company’s official blog. Andy Rubin is stepping down at a time when the adoption of Android is growing at a rapid pace. However, despite the numerical superiority — almost 69% smartphones in the world currently run on Android – the challenges for Google remain. Microsoft is pushing Windows Phone hard and BlackBerry has been able to create some buzz with BB10. Apple, meanwhile, is expected to unveil a new version of iOS software, which powers iPhones and iPads, this summer.
“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,” Page Wrote. “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.” Andy Rubin had joined Google when the search giant acquired his company called Android Inc in 2005. Since then he has been the guiding hand behind the OS and is considered a key person behind its success. In his blog post, Page said that Google has a global partnership with over 60 manufacturers for Android devices and more than 750 million devices powered by the operating system have been activated globally.
Though it is not clear why Rubin is stepping down, there is possibility that Google may want to integrate Chrome OS, which powers its laptops, and Android in future so that the company can use a single operating system for computers as well as mobile devices. If it is indeed the case, it is similar to what Apple did last year. Apple, which competes with Google’s Android with iOS, removed its start executive Scott Forstall, who was looking after the software that powers iPhone and iPad. In a press note the company said that move was aimed at achieving better integration between Apple products. “Craig Federighi will lead both iOS and OS X. Apple has the most advanced mobile and desktop operating systems, and this move brings together the OS teams to make it even easier to deliver the best technology and user experience innovations to both platforms,” an Apple spokesperson said in the press note. Pichai, who has a BTech degree from IIT Kharagpur, joined Google in 2004. Apart from Pichai, Google has several other Indians in prominent positions. Most important of them are Amit Singhal, who looks after Google’s search operations, Vic Gundotra, who takes care of Google+, the company’s social networking website, and Nikesh Arora, the company’s chief business officer.