Andy Rubin, Android Leader, Replaced By Chrome Boss Sundar Pichai: What Now?

Google Chrome and Android are closer than ever after the news of Andy Rubin, now former head of Android, stepping down for Chrome leader Sundar Pichai to lead both groups, and fans of the web browser and smartphone platform that Samsung, LG and HTC owe so much to are wondering, “What now?”

On Thursday, Google CEO Larry Page posted to the company’s official blog announcing Rubin’s departure, or transfer, or whatever he is doing, with a cheery post that has some tech writers and analysts scratching their heads.

“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!”

That last line, about the “moonshots”, made the writers at Wired wonder if maybe Page’s word choice was a subtle allusion to Rubin moving over to Google’s legendary and mysterious X labs, where the technology of the future –– some real Jetsons stuff –– is developed in secret.

“One possibility is Rubin will go to Google X, the skunkworks division specifically charged with making crazy, far-out concepts like autonomous vehicles and Google Glass reality,” Wired’s Nathan Olivarez-Giles wrote. “Page’s mentioning moonshots hints at such a move, and it makes sense to have Rubin lead Google’s charge toward the next great computing platform — wearable technology.”

It may have just been a reference to the astronomical success Rubin managed with Android.

“Sergey and I first heard about Android back in 2004, when Andy Rubin came to visit us at Google,” Page wrote. “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.

“Fast forward to today. 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. Pretty extraordinary progress for a decade’s work.”

Whether Rubin is done with Google, or if he is able to once again create and dominate an entire industry, like in his last role, he’s definitely someone worth keeping an eye on.

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