Big news from Google concerning Android today, as CEO Larry Page just announced on the official Google blog that Chrome and Apps SVP Sundar Pichai will be taking Andy Rubin's position as head of Android. There's no mention of exactly what Rubin will be doing now that he's no longer in charge of Android, as Google CEO Larry Page only says that Rubin has opted to "hand over the reins and start a new chapter at Google."
Rubin is commonly referred to as the father of Android, having helped found Android Inc. before it was purchased by Google in 2005. He's been in charge of the platform since then, and when he wasn't hard at work on Google's little green robot, he was known for dropping little Android statistics on his Twitter and Google+ accounts. The fact that he'll no longer be heading up Android development is pretty big news for Google, and it'll be interesting to see both where Rubin lands up within El Goog and what the effects of the SVP of Chrome and Apps taking over Android are.
In his announcement, Larry Page also included a few stats on how far Android has come in the smartphone market. The CEO noted that Google has partnerships with over 60 manufacturers and that there have been over 25 billion apps downloaded from Google Play to date. Page also said that there have been over 750 million Android devices activated around the world, which is a step up from the 500 million figure that Google announced in September 2012.
UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal reports that Andy Rubin sent an email to Android partners today announcing his decision to step away, explaining that he's an "an entrepreneur at heart" and that "now is the right time for me to start a new chapter within Google." The full letter from Rubin:
In November of 2007 we announced the Open Handset Alliance with 34 founding members. Today, I’m grateful to the over 85 OHA members who have helped us build Android and drive innovation at such an incredible pace. The Android ecosystem has seen tremendous growth since the launch of the very first Android device in October 2008. The volume and variety of Android devices exceeds even my most optimistic expectations — over 750 million compatible devices and counting!
At its core, Android has always been about openness — the idea that a thousand brains are better than one. Just as the ecosystem has grown, so has our team at Google. I am incredibly proud of the phenomenal group of people that spend their days (and nights) building the Android platform and services. Just look at last year…a lean yet incredibly ambitious team released Jellybean with Google Now, launched Google Play in many languages and countries and collaborated with several partners to build three new Nexus devices to help drive innovation in the ecosystem.
Today, the success of Android combined with the strength of our management team, gives me the confidence to step away from Android and hand over the reins. Going forward, Sundar Pichai will lead Android, in addition to his existing work with Chrome and Apps. Hiroshi Lockheimer — who many of you already know well — plus the rest of the Android leadership team will work closely with all of our partners to advance Android and prepare the platform for new products and services yet to be imagined.
As for me, I am an entrepreneur at heart and now is the right time for me to start a new chapter within Google. I am amazed by what we have accomplished from those early days (not so long ago!), and remain passionate about the power of a simple idea and a shared goal — an open source platform freely available to everyone — to transform computing for people everywhere.
Thank you for your support,