BY | March 25, 2013

Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie is in the making and the future of Android OS seems to be hinging in balance without Andy Rubin

What might be the future of Android OS without Andy Rubin as its head? Google has recently replaced Rubin as Android boss with Sundar Pichai. Has this been a nice move from the part of the company? Many Android fans have lamented the decision. They fear that anyone other than Rubin couldn’t keep up the success of Android, which is now the world’s largest mobile operating system with a whopping market share of around 70%. Its key rival iPhone accounts for only 19%, and is falling down.

Andy Rubin is the co-founder and mastermind of Android. He founded the operating system in 2003 along with his friends. Later, Google took over the platform in 2005 and Rubin joined the Google team to lead Android project. Until then, Rubin has been the face of Android and he enjoys the credit for all its advances over the years. It has now made a stunning impact in mobile market, and at this juncture has turned out Google’s unexpected move to replace him by the Chrome head Sundar Pichai.

Will this replacement be a boon or bane for Android OS? Is Pichai, who is a Google-born-and-bred, able to lead Android and take it ahead with better results? If you ask it to the world’s largest Android developer, Samsung, the answer will be assertive. Recently, a Samsung executive Kevin Packingham said that it was a wonderful move since Rubin was very stubborn at times. Mr. Kevin admired new Android boss as “a super-nice person” who is “very collaborative.”

But, analysts like Damien McFerran of Know Your Mobile, is not much hopeful about Rubin’s likely ‘forced’ departure as Android head. Rubin has said that he would love to focus on fresh projects now. But, as the decision was unexpected, there was enough reason to think that Google wanted not to see him in that position for some undisclosed reasons. Whatever it is, the news was a shock for many Android fans and industry analysts given that Rubin was such a skilled person to head Android.

“Rubin was and is an idea man first and foremost, Pichai is Google born and bred; perhaps Rubin’s unique vision is what allowed Android to flourish?” says McFerran. Yes, as the analyst noted, Rubin led Android considering it as a separate division from the rest of the Google machine. It is analyzed that this “relative autonomy” would be one of the reasons for Android’s amazing success. But, Pichai as the head, Android will just come as a division under the executive, who will continue as the head of Chrome, Chrome OS, Gmail and many other Google services.

It is a decisive period for Android and Google. After Google’s purchase of Motorola, all major Android developers including Samsung, LG and HTC have started to loudly think about their own operating systems. Samsung has already announced its new OS project, the Tizen by replacing its uninviting Bada OS. LG is reportedly in talks with HP to undertake its failed webOS and HTC has also expressed hope in setting up own OS.

Moreover, a couple of new open source mobile operating systems has already propped up in mobile market; Firefox OS and Ubuntu Phone. The former one is officially released with LG, Alcatel, Huawei and ZTE as its hardware partners. Meanwhile, Canonical is about to formally roll out its much-hyped Ubuntu OS for mobiles and tablets. It may also have lots of top hardware makers as partners.

Well, both these platforms are likely to run on rooted Android devices. So, Google faces some critical challenge in the awakening of new open source mobile platforms. Anyway, future of Android is now in the hands of Pichai. His ability to keep pace with Rubin’s innovative and out of box thinking will decide the fate of the Android operating system. Otherwise, market will soon bring in a huge challenge for Android and its devices.


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