SAN FRANCISCO — Andy Rubin, the leader of Google’s Android mobile group, has left his position at the top spot, a move that creates uncertainty for the world’s most popular smartphone operating system.
Android leadership will be filled by Sundar Pichai in addition to his existing roles with Chrome and Apps, Google CEO Larry Page said in a company blog post today.
Rubin is a big figure in the mobile industry. When Google in 2005 acquired Android, the company Rubin co-founded, it was still early days for smartphones and a bet on his open-source operating system was far from a sure thing.
“He believed that aligning standards around an open-source operating system would drive innovation across the mobile industry,” Page wrote in the post about learning of Android in a meeting with Rubin in 2004. “Most people thought he was nuts.”
Before he started Android, Rubin co-founded Danger, a company that became the basis of the popular Sidekick phone and was later sold to Microsoft. He also spent years at Apple and has a passion for robotic machines.
It was unclear what Rubin’s new role would be at Google. “He’s done his job. His job was to build the platform and make it successful. The next phase will be how to monetize those devices,” says Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi.
Google declined to comment on Rubin’s status at the company.
Android is a growing force in the mobile industry with over 900,000 Android devices activated each day and 70% of sales worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Google’s Pichai now holds a huge role at the company. The Google veteran could face how to mesh its Android mobile operating system with its Chrome OS as the lines between mobile and personal computer systems continue to blur. Microsoft addressed mobile features in its latest Windows 8, and Apple is sharing similarities in iOS with its Mac OS.
Unlike Microsoft, Google freely licenses its Android and Chrome operating systems. Google is positioned to make its apps more sticky for consumers and grab greater revenue from mobile search-related ads.
Shares of Google were down $3.89, or 0.47%, at $823.72 in midday trading.
Rubin steps aside as Android chief; Pichai takes over – USA TODAY