(FILES) Sundar Pichai (R), senior vice president of Chrome, in San Francisco in a June 28, 2012 file photo. Andy Rubin, vice president of engineering for Google in a February 2, 2011 file photo in Mountain View, California. Google Inc announced on March 13, 2013 that Pichai will replace Rubin as the overseer of the Android software platform that has become the world's most-used mobile software. — AFP (File Photo)

SAN FRANCISCO, Wed Mar 13, 2013 - Andy Rubin, the architect of Android, the world's top-selling mobile operating system, has decided to step down as Google Inc combines mobile software divisions under one roof, the company said on Wednesday.

Google appointed Sundar Pichai, the executive overseeing its Chrome web browser and applications like Google Drive and Gmail, to take over Rubin's responsibilities, hinting at how the company with the dominant Internet search engine intends to address the rise of mobile devices.

In a blog post, Larry Page, Google's chief executive and co-founder, credited Rubin for evangelizing Android several years ago and building it into a free, open-source platform that runs on nearly three-quarters of the world's smartphones and is used by the world's largest handset manufacturers, from Samsung Electronics Co Ltd to HTC Corp.

"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," Page wrote. "Andy, more moonshots please!

The merger of the Chrome and Android divisions helps resolve a longstanding tension in the Mountain View, California-based company's corporate strategy, and reflects a convergence of mobile and desktop software.

When Google poured resources into launching the Chrome web browser five years ago, the company laid out a vision of the Internet and an ecosystem of Google apps based on the Web. But the Android operating system, acquired by Google in 2005, has also been a runaway success, enabling third-party handset makers like Samsung to overtake Apple Inc while also spawning a massive economy of third-party apps that are only loosely affiliated with Google.

Under Pichai's direction, Google has released several netbook computers using the Chrome operating system. Last month, when Pichai unveiled the Chromebook Pixel, the first Chrome-based laptop with a touch-screen interface, analysts noted that Chrome and Android appeared to be on converging paths.

"You had this Chrome OS and this Android Group that were building in many overlapping products," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Gartner.

Gartenberg argued that despite Android's overwhelming popularity, it is Chrome that remains at the core of Google's strategy.

"For Google, it's not about the platform, but the ecosystem," Gartenberg said. "They're more concerned long-term about Google Docs, Google Voice, Google Books, and less about helping Samsung sell more phones."

Chrome, Gartenberg added, "is the purest expression of Google's philosophy."

FUTURE ROLE

Page was mum on Rubin's future role. Some analysts speculated that Rubin, an executive with a knack for developing products, could take on one of the company's many budding projects such as its Glass eyewear or the self-driving car.

"If he really has the magic touch perhaps he can create something else within Google," said Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Partners, who added that it was better for Google to have a more "cohesive" mobile brand.

Still, it remains unclear how Pichai would seek to merge Chrome and Android, if at all. Microsoft Corp, for example, recently introduced its Windows 8 operating system that was designed for both touch-screen desktop devices and Windows smartphones like the Nokia Lumia, while its Surface tablet further blurred the distinctions between form factors.

In his blog post, Page said Pichai would "double down" on Android.

"Sundar has a talent for creating products that are technically excellent yet easy to use — and he loves a big bet," 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."

Android is now installed on roughly two-thirds of the world's smartphones, supplanting Apple Inc at the pinnacle of the fast-moving mobile arena.

Android tablets are also expected to overtake Apple's iPad in terms of shipments in 2013, IT research house IDC predicted on Tuesday.

But Android's explosive growth - and the companies it has boosted - have also concerned Google's leadership. Rubin himself has warned other Google executives that Samsung could use its heft to renegotiate its ad revenue-sharing deals with Google, the Wall Street Journal reported last month.

LEADING VOICE

The re-shuffle reinforces Pichai, a senior vice president, as one of the leading voices within Google.

Trained as an engineer in India before moving to the United States, Pichai holds degrees from Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. He joined Google in 2004.

In 2008, Pichai aggressively pushed Google's Chrome browser, when Microsoft Corp's Explorer lorded over the market. Chrome now commands a roughly 35 percent market share according to Web traffic analyzers StatCounter.

He is also credited with the development of some of the company's most successful cloud-based apps, such as Calendar and Gmail, and has also steered Google Drive.

"Today we're living in a new computing environment," Page wrote. "People are really excited about technology and spending a lot of money on devices."

Google shares closed down 0.3 percent at $825.31.


Comments are closed.

Comments (8)

biased
March 14, 2013 12:46 pm

now All three VP of google are Indian.. very bad and biased.

Tamil Arasan
March 14, 2013 1:01 pm
Wow another student of Indian IIT institute have made it big.... well-done Mr.Sundar Pichai, you are an inspiration for students like me...
Sundar Pichai
March 14, 2013 2:56 pm
To me America is everything!
Md Imran
March 14, 2013 3:38 pm
Reason enough not to buy Android phones anymore.
Alex Sal
March 15, 2013 12:23 am
This is bad news. The management and Ruben have a different vision for the Android platform. Google's failure rate far exceeds its success. Even though Android is successful they have yet to make a dollar off this product. On the other hand Samjunk is making a bank. Android and Motorola are still negative on the balance sheet and yes I know they make money off mobile ads.
Alex Sal
March 15, 2013 12:25 am
Indian IT schools are good but its because of Stanford University where he is at!
Girish
March 15, 2013 7:40 am
Inidans rock guys...proud of his achievement
Aloo Dum
March 15, 2013 7:52 am
Just look at the numbers of thums down. Looks like we Indians seriously lack Sense of Humour.
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