Andy Rubin, the co-founder and former leader of Google Inc’s Android mobile business and the current head of its robotics division, is set to leave the company, Google said Thursday, according to reports. Rubin will be replaced by James Kuffner, who is currently a research scientist at Google and a member of its robotics division.
Rubin is set to start an incubator that will help new businesses to build technology hardware, the Wall Street Journal reported. Rubin is credited with helping Google compete with Apple by building Android into the world's most popular mobile operating system, which is used both on premium high-end products as well as affordable low-end devices. Rubin led the Android division for Google until 2013, according to Forbes.
“I want to wish Andy all the best with what’s next,” Google’s CEO Larry Page said in a statement, according to the Journal, adding: “With Android he created something truly remarkable— with a billion-plus happy users. Thank you.”
Google took over Android in 2005, after the company's inception in 2003. Sundar Pichai, a senior vice president at Google, took over the Android division from Rubin in 2013, after which Rubin led a series of robotics acquisitions for the company.
“It’s surprising and sounds pretty unplanned,” Scott Strawn, an analyst at research firm IDC, said, according to the Journal, adding: “If it was voluntary on Mr. Rubin’s part, you would think he would see part of the robotics project through to completion to have something to show publicly before leaving.”
Rubin has earlier worked with companies like Apple, Carl Zeiss Microscopy, Microsoft and WebTv, according to his LinkedIn profile.