Google CEO Larry Page updated the official Google Blog reporting that Android boss Andy Rubin is stepping down from his role. Sundar Pichai, the head of Google's Chrome division which includes the web browser and operating system, will take his place. The news arrives as Android not only continues to dominate the smartphone market, but lead the tablet market for the first time in 2013.
"Sergey and I first heard about Android back in 2004, when Andy Rubin came to visit us at Google," Page said. "He believed that aligning standards around an open-source operating system would drive innovation across the mobile industry. Most people thought he was nuts. But his insight immediately struck a chord."
Rubin joined Google back in 2005 and was tasked to turn his open-source mobile OS into a full-fledged Apple iOS rival. Those very open-source roots have helped propel the platform to its current stardom, offered up for free to manufacturers who in turn can customize the platform to fill their needs. And unlike Apple's closed network, Android is open to all creative minds.
"The pace of innovation has never been greater, and Android is the most used mobile operating system in the world: we have a global partnership of over 60 manufacturers; more than 750 million devices have been activated globally; and 25 billion apps have now been downloaded from Google Play," Page said. "Pretty extraordinary progress for a decade’s work."
With Android now dominating both the smartphone and tablet market, Andy has decided it’s time to hand over the reins and "start a new chapter" at Google -- so far it's unknown what that "new chapter" will be. Meanwhile, Sundar Pichai will lead Android in addition to his existing work with Chrome and Apps.
"Today Chrome has hundreds of millions of happy users and is growing fast thanks to its speed, simplicity and security," he said. "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."
The news is interesting given all the previous talk about merging Chrome OS with Android. While the company has stated in the past that mobile and desktop should be completely different, evidence of merging Android and Chrome OS has been spotted in the Chromium code. A single OS could be cheaper to manage, and would provide a more consistent experience across different form factors.
"We’re getting closer to a world where technology takes care of the hard work—discovery, organization, communication—so that you can get on with what makes you happiest… living and loving," he said. "It’s an exciting time to be at Google."