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IITian Sundar Pichai now head of Android

Born in Chennai, he has degrees from Stanford, Wharton.

Bureau Report

SAN FRANCISCO: Sundar Pichai, an alumni of IIT Kharagpur, has been tapped to run the world’s most popular mobile operating system, Android. He is taking over from Andy Rubin, who has stepped down as head of Android.

The news was announced as a blog post from Google co-founder and Chief Executive Larry Page announcing a major changing of the guard at the Internet giant, reported the Los Angeles Times.

“I know Sundar will do a tremendous job doubling down on Android as we work to push the ecosystem forward,” Page said in the post.

Pichai, who was born in Chennai, joined Google in 2004 as vice president of product management, overseeing search and consumer products such as iGoogle, Google Toolbar, Desktop Search and Gadgets, Google Pack, and Gears, reported the Wall Street Journal.

Pichai’s ascension comes at a crucial time for Android. Its growth has begun to flatten, and Google executives have begun to worry about Samsung Electronics Co.’s dominance of Android. The South Korean company sells about 40% of the gadgets that use Android software and is about to unveil the highly anticipated Galaxy S4.

Some see Pichai’s takeover of Android as a signal that Google wants to coordinate or merge its two operating systems: Chrome and Android. Pichai is also the senior vice president of Chrome, said the Times.

Pichai has turned the Chrome browser into a breakout success, giving Internet Explorer and Firefox a real run for their money.

“In 2008, people asked whether the world really needed another browser. Today Chrome has hundreds of millions of happy users and is growing fast, thanks to its speed, simplicity and security,” Page wrote.

Under Pichai, the Chrome operating system has found its way into products such as the Chromebook Pixel.

“Sundar has a talent for creating products that are technically excellent yet easy to use — and he loves a big bet,” Page said.

Pichai made his bet on Google when he joined the company in 2004. He had worked at Applied Materials and McKinsey & Co. He got his bachelor’s degree in technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, where he studied metallurgical and materials engineering and graduated from the school in 1993. He has a master’s degree in science from Stanford University and a master of business administration degree from Wharton.

One of Pichai’s former professors, Sanat Kumar Roy, describes him as an “enthusiastic” and “obedient” student, said the Journal.

The ranks of famous IIT Kharagpur alumni include Arun Sarin, the former chief executive of Vodafone Group, and Vinod Gupta, chairman of U.S.-based venture capital and private equity firm Everest Group LLC.

Pichai gained more visibility in 2011 when Twitter tried to poach him to lead product. Pichai decided to stay with Google, said the Times.

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