The man who oversaw Android’s rise from secret project to the most dominant mobile computing platform on Earth is stepping aside, the company confirmed this week. Andy Rubin, unexpectedly, is handing control of Android to another rising star at Google. But he’s allegedly not leaving the company and could develop another “moonshot” for the giant advertising firm.
In a letter from Google CEO Larry Page, Rubin’s strange departure from Android is positioned as amicable.
“Andy Rubin believed that aligning standards around an open-source operating system would drive innovation across the mobile industry. Most people thought he was nuts,” Page writes in the letter. “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.”
There’s no word what that “new chapter” is, and I suspect there will be some speculation that Rubin is in fact preparing to leave the company sometime in the coming months. But his accomplishments are undeniable. As Page notes, Android rose from a secret skunkworks project to become the “most used mobile operating system in the world.” Android now has more than 750 million devices activated, making it the second-most-used computing platform overall after Windows, with more than 25 billion apps downloaded, sold via devices made by more than 60 hardware makers.
Rubin will be succeeded by Sundar Pichai, who formerly oversaw Google’s Chrome and ChromeOS products. Pichai is a familiar sight at Google’s annual I/O conference, and his move to Android should make for an interesting show this year. It could also mean that Google is moving to consolidate its desktop PC (ChromeOS) and tablet/smartphone (Android) platforms into a single, cohesive product line. This is pretty much what I recommended that Microsoft do about a month ago in "Hey, Microsoft: It’s Time to Pull Phone into Windows."