Google Appoints One Chief for Android, Chrome
Google (NSDQ: GOOG) CEO Larry Page in a blog post, disclosed that current Android chief Andy Rubin is moving to a new role within the search company and named Sundar Pichai to lead the Android division in addition to his duties as vice president of Chrome and Apps (think Gmail and Drive). That means there’s one boss for Android and Chrome. Could Pichai’s appointment be the step immediately prior to Google’s combining the two into one platform? Hmm….
The idea has been kicked around a lot, but Page isn’t saying, at least at this point.
“Going forward, Sundar Pichai will lead Android, in addition to his existing work with Chrome and Apps,” wrote Page. “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.”
Of Rubin, Page said: “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.”
And what would that new chapter be? So far, there’s no word, except that Page, in his blog, asked Rubin for “more moonshots please.”
The well-known Rubin recently denied reports of Google’s plans to open retail stores, particularly to hands-on showcase its Google Glass project. He also publicly offered that Samsung’s Android-based dominance in the worldwide smartphone market has made Google a bit wary of the relationship’s future.
Going forward, Pichai will have to navigate those muddying waters and, at the same time, keep his pedal to the metal to maintain Android’s forward momentum. According to Strategy Analytics, for 2012, the mobile OS now commands a 68.4 percent share of the market compared to Apple’s (NSDQ: AAPL) iOS at 19.4 percent. Both figures were higher for Q4, 2012, suggesting Android still has room to push ahead, although Pichai will have defend its position against not only iOS but also new or revived competitors such as Microsoft’s (NSDQ: MSFT) Windows Phone, BlackBerry and the open-source Tizen.
As for Android and Chrome, it’s a stretch even to call them birds of the same feather. Chrome wants to makes its bones based on web applications in the cloud while Android’s cloth is cut from native apps installed in the mobile device.
While Google’s new Chromebook Pixel features touch screen technology, blurring the lines further between Android and Chrome will be an interesting feat for Pichai, perhaps worthy of one of Rubin’s moonshots, as Page put it.