What will happen to Android, post-executive shuffle?
The history of Android is quite interesting and wild. Practically overnight, it took over the wireless industry, and gathered widespread adoration from consumers, manufacturers, wireless providers, retailers, and … pretty much everyone in between.
And since 2008, the system has evolved from a beta-like, cheesy, poorly designed operating system into a mature, gorgeous, powerful platform that resides at the core of Google’s ever-expanding ecosystem.
In that time, we’ve seen Google’s attitude towards Android change, as well.
It once treated Android as the redheaded stepchild or one of those side-projects it just wasn’t sure was ever going to take off. But now when we see the faces behind Google on stage, showing off the product, there’s a passion in everyone’s eyes, an excitement only previously portrayed by the likes of Apple and the brains behind iOS and related hardware.
Yet, while the platform continues to hit milestones and break records, the last few months have been bittersweet for Android, at least internally.
Andy Rubin, co-founder and proud parent of Android, stepped away from the development of the platform in March to work on other projects at Google. Sundar Pichai has since filled his shoes, balancing his workload between Android, Chrome, and Google Apps.
Jean-Baptiste Quéru (or JBQ) quit his post as one of the lead engineers for AOSP, allegedly, due to the legal issues around Qualcomm releasing source code and its lawyers “sabotaging” the new Nexus 7 launch. This isn’t the first time it’s happened, and JBQ tweeted on July 30:
“That feeling when lawyers sabotage the launch you spent 6 months working on? I haz it. Sad sad sad sad sad sad.”
Then Hugo Barra, former vice president of Android product development and one of the very familiar faces of Android (seeing his face on stage usually meant something exciting was about to happen, like new devices), announced he was leaving Google just last week. He’s headed to Chinese smartphone maker, Xiaomi, as the new VP.
Although it’s somewhat unrelated to Android, there are some rumblings that Vic Gundotra could become Microsoft’s next CEO. That would be quite ironic, considering his reaction to the Microsoft-Nokia partnership last year and the recent announcement of the partial Nokia acquisition. But I digress …
The executive shuffle and important faces leaving Android in a relatively short time have raised a few eyebrows. And, likewise, speculation and FUD is seeping through the floorboards. Those crazy analysts who suggested Android would hit its peak in 2012 and 2013 are whooping and hollering on the false hope they might be right … for once. (Spoiler, they aren’t.) And defectors from the platform are reveling in the nonsensical belief that the platform is growing stale and doesn’t have much of a future.
Apparently, the dozens – maybe far more than that – of other developers and people who make the Android platform possible aren’t important. You know, the ones who get their hands dirty in the code each and every day? Yeah, they clearly don’t matter.
Give me a break.
And while you’re at it, break me off a piece of that KitKat bar.
Android, even as bittersweet as a future without Rubin or Barra or Quéru may be, is now poised for an extremely bright and lucrative future. Pichai has spent his short time as head of Android bringing the ecosystem together, improving Google Apps on mobile. At Google IO, Google drew the curtains on its solution for fragmentation – updating all the apps and services without physically updating Android. And lest we forget, there’s one man who has promoted change for Android arguably more than anyone since he joined the ranks at Google: Matias Duarte.
You may call me a Duarte fanboy, but the man has the skills and portfolio to back him up. He designed the highly regarded webOS interface, and he finally put the Android UI and UX on the right track by unifying the interface and using a ton of elbow grease.
Honestly, I can’t begin to wrap my head around why anyone would ever think important people are stepping away from Android because it’s stagnant and reaching its peak. The simple explanation for those allegations is naivety.
If anything, Barra and Rubin have proven themselves very useful with Android’s quick rise to the top, and their services are needed and/or wanted elsewhere.
I have a ton of faith in Pichai, Duarte, and all the people coding new versions of Android until their fingers fall off. And, honestly, Android’s growth may be slowing, but it’s certainly not stagnating. In the last two Jelly Bean updates alone, Google has introduced some compelling features no other mobile platform can touch: Photo Sphere, Multiuser support with restricted access, Miracast support, 4K resolution support, etc.
Can we please stop jumping off the deep end every time a single person leaves a company? Android development, new Nexus devices, nor Google are going to come to a grinding halt because two or three people left.