Now that Andy Rubin is off on some secret mission, we’re left to wonder just who our new leader really is. As Android faithful, we want to know all there is about Sundar Pichai. He’s done some great things with Google, bringing us all manner of Chrome functionality, but what is he going to do for Android? We’re a vicious, demanding lot… so he may have just stepped into the lion’s den.
Born in 1967, Sundar was raised in Tamil Nadu, India. He would earn a Bachelors of Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology,Kharagpur, earning an Institute Silver Medal along the way. After moving stateside, he would earn an M.S. from Stanford as well as an MBA from Wharton School, where he was both a Seibel and Palmer Scholar.
Sundar joined Google in 2004, concentrating on Chrome development, both browser and operating system. He is directly attributable to the growth of Google Drive, and has been instrumental in Google Services working on Chrome. For just about everything that goes into Chrome, he’s the man in charge. Sundar has been the Senior Vice President of Chrome and apps since 2011.
While Sundar undoubtedly has a large team full of bright people, it’s him who we attribute the success of Chrome. In his time with Google, so much great work has already been done. We’ve seen Chrome rise to (arguably) the most popular browser on earth. Chrome OS has seen a huge uptick in adoption, and Google Drive has made monumental improvements.
Android is a juggernaut, showing no signs of letting down. It has grown into a platform that doesn’t need any tight control at the top, monitoring growth. Our favored OS is about as grown as it will get on it’s own, really. Android can always stand to improve, but it doesn’t need any work from scratch. At this point in the game, it’s about tweaks. More importantly, it’s about functionality and crossing over into other platforms. Sundar has a proven track record of simply making things work well together, and perhaps that’s what we should be thinking of.
The hints are there. We’ve seen Android code in Chromium, and Google Now is starting to surface as a function we’ll see in Chrome OS, if not the browser. Google Now is an Android service, and not one we’d thought to see in Chrome when it came out. Now, we’re very close to cross-platform functionality. The two platforms also share many other services, like Drive. If Google is serious about mobile, and we know they are, functionality has to be sublime across platforms. Right now, that’s a disparate topic which lies within two major services at Google.
Sundar is now in charge of two major Google services, which have very little to do with one another. We can speculate all day long about that which we do not know, so the direction and scope of what is in store is still confusing for us. What we do know is that Sundar has done a fantastic job with Chrome, so there’s no reason to think Android will suffer for his involvement.
Discussing a straight-up merger of Chrome and Android may be a little short-sighted. The real lineage may be in functionality. Why else would one man need to head two very large departments? If not to make services and functionality work across the board, I can’t yet see a reason to not have Sundar in charge.
If there is a bottom line, it’s this: Sundar Pichai is great for Android. He’s a Googler, through and through; thoughtful, funny, and a no-nonsense genius. He took Chrome to a level nobody really considered, so the sky's the limit for Android and Chrome. What we’ll have to get used to is that Android and Chrome are going to be intertwined in many ways, moving forward. Sundar may not add a lot of layering to these services, but he will make it much harder to tell the difference between some of the functions they share. Whether or not they actually merge is arbitrary. The experience is what matters, not what we call it.