Sundar Pichai, Google senior vice president of Chrome and Google Apps, will be adding Android to his title, as he takes the reins of that important business unit for Google.
Andy Rubin, who built Android into the most popular phone operating system in the world, will stay at Google in an unspecified role.
Google CEO Larry Page announced the change Wednesday in a blog post:
Sundar has a talent for creating products that are technically excellent yet easy to use -- and he loves a big bet. Take Chrome, for example. In 2008, people asked whether the world really needed another browser. Today Chrome has hundreds of millions of happy users and is growing fast thanks to its speed, simplicity and security. 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.
Page isn't just spouting hyperbole about Chrome. I reviewed Chrome when Google introduced it five years ago. I led the review with a comment about how pointless it seemed, at least at first glance. It now has a respectable 14 percent market share, making it the third-most popular browser, trailing Firefox's 17 percent and Internet Explorer's 48 percent. But it's still struggling.
Chrome OS also seemed pointless when it was announced in 2009. Google already had an open-source operating system in Android; it apparently had no need for two. The two OSs differentiated themselves over the years, with Android for phones and tablets and Chrome for netbooks, and more recently, the high-end Chromebook Pixel. But the lines between the two began to blur again recently, as the Pixel has a touchscreen. So it makes sense to have one person in charge of all of Google's mobile operating systems.
Page praised Rubin, while not delineating a specific role for him in Google's future:
Sergey and I first heard about Android back in 2004, when Andy Rubin came to visit us at Google. 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 because at the time it was extremely painful developing services for mobile devices. We had a closet full of more than 100 phones and were building our software pretty much device by device. It was nearly impossible for us to make truly great mobile experiences.
Android is the "most used mobile operating system in the world," Page goes on to say, with over 750 million activated devices, and more than 60 manufacturer partners. He continues:
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. Andy, more moonshots please!
Android's 750 million Android activations is up from 500 million in September. Android was the top mobile operating system in 2012, with 70 percent of the market, according to Gartner. Second-place iOS had 21 percent.
It's an open question how Google will change with Pichai in charge of several of its strategic platforms and products. What do you think?
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— Mitch Wagner , Editor in Chief, Internet Evolution