Google Android exec Hugo Barra heads to Chinese firm

Justin Sullivan/GETTY IMAGES - SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 24: Hugo Barra, Vice President, Android Product Management at Google, holds up a new Asus Nexus 7 tablet as he speaks during a special event at Dogpatch Studios on July 24, 2013 in San Francisco, California.

There’s been a little shakeup in the smartphone industry this week, with the announced departure of Hugo Barra, one of the team leaders for Google’s Android mobile operating system.

Barra said Wednesday that he was leaving the tech titan after more than five years to join Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi. Barra made the announcement in a post on Google+, and the news was first reported by All Things Digital.

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Barra, the vice president of product management for Android, had been one of the most visible members of Google’s Android team, appearing at public events to present major Android devices such as Google’s Nexus 7. His new position as vice president of Xiaomi Global won’t take him too far out of the Google ecosystem — the firm makes Android-based phones. Xiaomi touts high-end hardware and its software enhancements to Google’s base operating system.

The company has been gaining ground in the all-important Chinese smartphone market, where locally based companies such as Lenovo and Huawei are giving industry giants such as Apple and Samsung a run for their money. The Next Web shared a report earlier this month from Canalys that showed Xiaomi with a 5 percent marketshare in China, compared with Apple’s 4.8 percent. Samsung leads with 17.6 percent of the market there, the report said.

Despite the high-profile resignation, Google stocks ticked up in Thursday morning trading by just over 1 percent for a share price of $859.42.

For the curious, All Things Digital reported that Barra’s departure has no connection to the more personal Google news that the blog broke Wednesday: that a Google employee who once had a relationship with Barra is now dating Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who in turn has separated from his wife.

Google declined to comment on Barra’s resignation.

On his own Google+ page, Sundar Pichai, the head of Google’s Android and Chrome division, wished Barra well.

“We’ll miss him at Google but we’re thrilled that he’s sticking with Android,” Pichai wrote.

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