Google’s Android lead steps down


Google’s Andy Rubin (left), who founded the company the tech giant bought to build its own platform, has resigned. He will be replaced by Sundar Pichai (right). (KIMIHIRO HOSHINO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
March 13, 2013

Android lead Andy Rubin will step down from his position, handing over the reins of Google’s mobile operating system to Chrome lead Sundar Pichai.

Google chief executive Larry Page broke the news Wednesday in a post on the company’s official blog, saying that Rubin felt the time had come to move on — albeit within the company.

Page did not specify what new position Rubin, who founded the Android company that Google backed and eventually bought to become its own smartphone platform, will take at Google. He did, however, indicate that he will be working on projects focused on innovation.

“Andy’s decided it’s time to hand over the reins and start a new chapter at Google,” Page wrote. “Andy, more moonshots please!”

Rubin said on his personal Twitter account that he has “no plans to leave Google.”

Under Rubin’s leadership, Google’s Android has become the world’s dominant smartphone platform, with 70 percent of the world’s marketshare, according to data released last month by the International Data Corporation.

Pichai will be adding Android to his existing work portfolio, which includes Chrome and Apps. He has overseen Chrome’s growth to become one of the top three Internet browsers in the world. Page said that under Pichai’s leadership Chrome has become a browser that can sell itself on three traits: speed, simplicity and security.

Security has been a particular concern for Android users, who often find themselves using devices that don’t have the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, and the security fixes that come with it.

Moving toward a more unified ecosystem has been a priority for Google — both to address security concerns and to ease the path for developers to make apps for the system — which has made moves to bring its smartphone and tablet operating systems closer together with its most recent releases.

Still, in the year since Google released its latest version of Android, Jelly Bean, only 16 percent of users have upgraded to the system.

Google shares were down slightly in Wednesday trading, down less than 1 percent to just over $825. The company’s shares have been on a rapid rise in recent months, hitting trading highs earlier this month.

Android seems poised to continue its strong growth in the mobile world, with the system projected to gain even more popularity among smartphone and tablet makers.

On Tuesday, IDC reported that it expects Android tablets to overtake Apple’s iPad in this year, jumping to 51 percent of the market from the 46 percent it currently holds.

Related stories:

Majority of mobile malware on Android phones, security firm says

‘Fragmentation’ leaves Android phones vulnerable to hackers, scammers

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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