Google's top Android exec steps down
APSAN FRANCISCO--Andy Rubin has stepped down as the executive in charge of Google's Android operating system for smartphones and tablet computers, ending a seven-year reign that reshaped the technology industry.
March 15, 2013, 12:06 am TWN
The unexpected change announced Wednesday may raise new questions about Android's direction as Google duels with Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp. and a long list of other companies in the increasingly important mobile computing market.
Google is replacing Rubin with Sundar Pichai, an executive in charge of the company's Chrome Web browser and operating system for lightweight laptop computers. That move may heighten recurring speculation that the Chrome operating system eventually will supplant Android. Google executives so far only have said they want to make sure the two operating systems can operate cohesively together.
Pichai is a logical choice to succeed Rubin because there is probably going to be even more “natural confluence” between the Android and Chrome systems in the next few years, said Edward Jones analyst Josh Olson.
In a Wednesday blog post, Google CEO Larry Page said Rubin, 50, has reached a stage in his career where he wants to try something different after devoting so much time and energy to Android. Rubin, a longtime gadget lover who once worked at Apple, hatched Android at a startup that Google bought in 2005, when accessing the Internet from a mobile phone was still an exercise in frustration.
“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. The company declined to disclose what Rubin's new role will be.
Google Inc.'s stock dipped US$2.30 Wednesday to close at US$825.31.
Although he isn't well-known outside the technology industry, Rubin ranked among the most influential figures in the early stages of the smartphone's development. Most viewed his team's work on Android as revolutionary, although the late Steve Jobs blasted the software as a shameless rip-off of the breakthroughs that Apple made with the 2007 introduction of the iPhone. The first phones running on Android came out more than a year after the iPhone's debut.
While Android's features mirror many of those on the iPhone, the way it's distributed is much different.
Rubin and his team built Android as a piece of “open-source” software that could be easily modified by other developers. That contrasts with the iPhone, whose software is tightly controlled by Apple. But Rubin also created the Nexus smartphone and tablet line as a showcase for the software.