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Currently head of apps and Chrome browser takes his place

Just months after Apple, Inc. (AAPL) shook up its ranks with the departure of former iOS senior vice president Scott Forstall, Google Inc. (GOOG) has announced its own executive shakeup in its mobile operating system ranks.  Google has announced that Android co-founder and former Android Inc. CEO Andy Rubin will be stepping down from his post as head of development for the mobile operating system.

I. Google's Smartphone Team Gets Fresh Blood

Mr. Rubin will remain at Google, but will begin an undefined "new chapter" at the company.  Google CEO Larry Page writes, "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!"

Taking those reins will be Google senior vice president Sundar Pichai, a leader on the Chrome browser and Android apps teams.  Mr. Pichai holds a M.S. degree from Stanford University and a MBA from Wharton School, where he earned numerous honors.

Sundar Pichai
Sundar Pichai will lead the Android team. [Image Source: Reuters]

Mr. Pichai will continue to manage Chrome OS in addition to the Android ecosystem, which today consists of 750+ million devices and hundreds of thousands of apps.  There's a great deal of speculation that Google may merge Chrome OS with the Android platform, a move that could reenergize the struggling Google laptop operating system.

II. A Decade With Android

Andy Rubin had been leading the Android team for a decade.

He started his career in the 1980s as a roboticist with Carl Zeiss Meditec AG (ETR:AFX).  He first jumped into the consumer electronics industry with a 1989-1992 stint in Apple's manufacturing department.  From there he went on to work as engineer at MagicCap, a mid-1990s PDA operating system maker, which was run by later iPod co-creator Tony Fadell.  

After MagicCap was folded into the MSN TV project, Andy Rubin set out on his own in 1999 co-founding Danger Inc., an all-in-one hardware/software/services firm that created the "Sidekick", a top early proto-smartphone.  Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) would eventually acquire Danger in Feb. 2008 for $500M USD.

Andy Rubin
Andy Rubin (left) at the 2011 unveil of the Galaxy Nexus. [Image Source: Reuters]

But by then Mr. Rubin had already left.  In 2003 he left his position as Danger Inc. CEO to co-found a new mobile operating systems startup, Android Inc.  He served as CEO at Android until 2005, when Google acquired the company.

The Android unit would continue to quietly develop its product under Mr. Rubin's leadership until 2007, when the smartphone OS stormed onto the market.  Despite its high profile backing, Android would not catch on in a big way until 2009.  But slowly, it accelerated its sales pace, thanks to strong third party support.  By 2010 it was the market leader in unit sales.  Today it is by far the world's most used smartphone operating system.

While coverage of Mr. Rubin's departure will likely jump on the angle of its timing with respect to Mr. Forstall's departure, the departures appear merely coincidental; unlike Mr. Forstall, Mr. Rubin was widely regarded as well-liked and has not been forced out of the greater Google empire.

Source: Google

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RE: Larry Page's announcement decoded
By Tony Swash on 3/14/2013 7:25:20 AM , Rating: 2
Wrong from the ground up - Google never was an OS company, they got into it not to stop MS, but to advance web infrastructure and make money from ads, analytics and product integration. Everything to you is "fear and threats" and "us vs. them" isnt it? You are so narrow.

I agree that Google do not make money directly from selling operating systems, Google only and exclusively makes money from selling advertising, and it's advertising product only has value if Google can collect and organise more information about what people do than anyone else. Google needs to know what everyone is doing all of the time, if they miss big parts of the population or big areas of activity their product is devalued. That need to know everything underpins everything they do and everything they do can be judged as a commerical strategy against how well it helps Google sell adverting.

So why do you think that Google felt compelled to put so much effort in to creating Android? Why didn't they just piggyback on the back of the other mobile operating systems?

No, it isnt. They make thier money regardless. You have to move with the times. To you things are "threats" because you live in a narrow minded land where if its not Apple you cant see it... Its all opportunities.

But they don't and that's the point. This article, called "The $20B Opportunity Mirage" on the economics of web advertising from last summer by Jean-Louis Gassée is very good.

"We get closer to the heart of the matter when we look at a common thought pattern, an age-old and dangerously misleading algorithm:

The [new thing] is like the [old thing] only [smaller | bigger]

We’ve seen this formula, and its abuse, before. Decades ago, incumbents had to finally admit that minicomputers weren’t simply small mainframes. Manufacturers, vendors, software makers had to adapt to the constraints and benefits of a new, different environment. A semi-generation later, we saw it again: Microcomputers weren’t diminutive minicomputers but truly personal machines that consumers could lift with their arms, minds, and credit cards.

Now we have advertising on smartphones, and we’ve fallen into a comfortable, predictable rut: “It’s just like Web advertising on the PC, shrunk to fit.” We see the same methods, the same designs, the same business models, wedged onto a smaller screen."

This is quite amusing about the closure of Google Reader.

RE: Larry Page's announcement decoded
By retrospooty on 3/14/2013 8:19:14 AM , Rating: 2
I would suggest you just stop trying to "get" Android and deal with the fact that it is and stop your brain from working on what it is because it's not working for you.

RE: Larry Page's announcement decoded
By Tony Swash on 3/14/2013 9:09:50 AM , Rating: 2
Meanwhile Google has just announced it is to ban all ad-blocking apps, and had removed them from Play Store.

I guess Android is not as open as we thought ;)

By retrospooty on 3/14/2013 10:19:38 AM , Rating: 2
Yawn... The more you try and poop on it, the more transparent you look. I really think YOU need to get over Android. It's here, Its dominating, get used to it.

By Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer on 3/14/2013 10:47:51 AM , Rating: 3
Oh no, you're right; Android isn't open after all. After all, as we all know, the only way to load an app onto an Android device is to get it from the Play Store. It's unfortunate that Google decided to follow Apple's lead in that respect.


By retrospooty on 3/14/2013 10:50:33 AM , Rating: 2
LOL... I know. The sad thing about Tony is that is is NOT clueless. He isnt "uninformed" and making comments based on lack of info. He is purposefully spreading FUD with the skill of a politician.

RE: Larry Page's announcement decoded
By theapparition on 3/14/2013 10:59:11 AM , Rating: 2
But you can still easily sideload them. The only people who even know ad blocking software exists are savy enough to sideload them.

Something your Apple overlords still forbid.

Why does this matter so much to you? Can't you be happy that others have a choice that isn't yours. Why are you so willing to join a pilgrimage, carrying your Apple banner, trying to win back the holy land? It seems like you, or one of your other alter-egos are severely threatened by a competing product.

I've been very critical of Apple products and their model for some time. Not that it doesn't make money, but I prefer to have an ecosystem where I can chose from various hardware/software. Macintosh didn't allow those choices in the early PC days (where I came from being an avid Apple IIe user). But at the same time I can look at Apple objectively and see some of the tremendous advances they've done.

However you've never once said anything positive about Android. Not once. Your position has shifted constantly. You pointed to market share charts when Apple was doing great, and then shied away from them as they are slipping. Suddenly the marketshare metric you championed means nothing. Now, you point towards profits, insisting that no other smartphone company makes any profits. Along comes Samsung, and now it's Samsung is cannibalizing the industry profit. It's argument dujour. You seem to have a team of lackys scouring pro-Apple websites to regurgitate that info here on a moments notice. No rational person would have access to links so readily available to defend a position.

It's just a product, not a way of life.........or is your entire self worth tied to a product identity. If you are "apparently" on vacation in some exotic locale, you are still here, trying to defend your position every time an Apple article comes up. Very sad.

By Tony Swash on 3/14/2013 11:16:21 AM , Rating: 2
You pointed to market share charts when Apple was doing great, and then shied away from them as they are slipping


RE: Larry Page's announcement decoded
By Tony Swash on 3/14/2013 12:53:13 PM , Rating: 2
You pointed to market share charts when Apple was doing great, and then shied away from them as they are slipping. Suddenly the marketshare metric you championed means nothing.

I am a bit perplexed as to what you mean. Given that outside of the tablet and music player market Apple has never had a large or majority market share I am not sure what I was supposed to have championed.

I hope we are talking about the same thing.

Just to clarify: market share as it is usually bandied about is the share of units sold.

Market share used to be a reasonable good proxy indicator of relative platform strength in the PC days when the higher the market share of units sold generally the stronger a given platform was. However in the mobile device markets higher market share (share of units sold) no longer automatically translates into stronger platform performance. That, I think, is a fairly uncontroversial point to make as it is immediately clear from even a cursory examination of the abundant data on different metrics for platform performance that iOS is out performing Android as a platform, and out performing it by a big margin, even though iOS trails behind Android in terms of units sold.

I would have thought that the fact that there is a disconnect between market share of units sold and platform performance is indisputable and I found it surprising that such a statement is even slightly controversial. Nobody can look at the evidence and data measuring platform performance of mobile devices and fail to see that it does not track market share of units sold.

RE: Larry Page's announcement decoded
By theapparition on 3/14/2013 2:43:21 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not debating the merit of the things you post, I'm debating what you post. I thought that was abundantly clear.

You post chart dujour to suit whatever argument dujour you favor this month. And you back that standpoint ferociously without ever acknowledging you were wrong in many cases. If I was a loser, I'd spend the time to look up some of the ridiculous claims you've made at DT. Your speculation that Google is in trouble carries about as much merit as those who claim Apple is in trouble.

By retrospooty on 3/14/2013 5:19:00 PM , Rating: 2
Yup... His famous "Android is a spectacular failure" sticks in my mind. He said that within the last month. LOL. Google and Android are firing on all pistons and gaining momentum every month that goes by.

The truth is he (for some unknown reason) cares so much about Apple that he really feels Google is a threat so he lashes out like a child. The more Tony posts , the more worried he is... and he posts an awful lot lately ;)

RE: Larry Page's announcement decoded
By RufusM on 3/14/2013 12:43:03 PM , Rating: 2
Android is one thing, the Google Play store is another. Of course they're going to ban apps that block ads. It's Google and they make a ton of money off of ads.

Android is a hedge against being blocked out of the mobile OS space. Google saw mobile as being huge and they knew they needed a seat at the table.

Motorola is a hedge against being blocked out by Android manufacturers such as Samsung. Google saw Samsung and others could fork Android and cut Google out of the loop. They also saw the kind of money being made by Apple and wanted in on the action. They needed to have some avenue of control to maintain their seat at the table.

Google+ is a hedge against Facebook and other social avenues blocking them out. Google saw they needed to have their own social app they could control to give them more/better user signals.

Google's been killing off the apps and services they don't see long term value in and investing in those they do. In a few years I would be surprised if Google/Motorola does NOT have a top tier phone on virtually all carriers. They are in a position to subsidize the phone with ad revenue through their various services and make profit off the device itself. If Android OEMs drop off, where are they going to go? Windows is about their only choice other than some other forked version of Android, which has problems of its own because they wouldn't get Google's apps.

For better or worse, going forward, to compete in mobile vertical integration is needed between hardware/software/services. To me, great services are the hardest part to produce our of those three things.

I think Google is in a better position than anyone to make bank on all three. Microsoft also has a great opportunity since they have services and software, but they need the hardware. Apple has the hardware and software nailed but not services.

By Tony Swash on 3/14/2013 2:01:30 PM , Rating: 1
This a very good article on Rubin's departure from The Guardian,

“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” -- Steve Jobs

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