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Android Person of the Year nominee: Andy Rubin

December 24, 2010 | by Chris Smith

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Andy Rubin, Google
VP of Engineering, Android
Nominated because: He is the founder of Android and responsible for all new Android additions

Andy Rubin, as many of you know, is the brainchild of the Android operating system and makes the list because of it. Mr. Rubin is the VP of Engineering at Google (responsible for all things Android) and was the former CEO of both Danger, Inc. and Android. He has had a super busy year with two iterations of the Android operating system under his belt, winning over the minds and hearts of more and more developers, and trying to make Android the be all to end all of mobile operating systems.

Rubin is a geek at heart; we all remember his rebuttal to Steve Jobs remark of Android not technically being an open system via Twitter:

“the definition of open: “mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git:// ; repo sync ; make”

To most, this is cryptic and not important, but to the faithful Android geeks, a rebuttal of this nature shows them that Rubin is the right person to be in charge of the world’s most popular install of Linux. Of course, Rubin has been criticized for not being entirely sincere when it comes to Android being open, as he as somewhat defended carriers and manufacturers locking down Android ROMs and installing bloatware. He has said that having an open source operating system allows for anyone to do what they will with the OS. That may be the case, but having a locked down OS with junk installed isn’t necessarily ideal and inspiring.

And of course like any good leader Mr. Rubin has back tracked on a few things this year. In January at All Things D at CES, Mr. Rubin spoke about how he didn’t “like two handed operations” on phones in response to why Android didn’t support multi-touch yet in the U.S. but did internationally. Of course, soon after these remarks multi-touch started to ship on all U.S. Android devices, showing that it was obviously wanted by consumers. Also, Rubin spoke of Android fragmentation earlier this year saying that “it was going to happen” no matter what, but Google would try to fight it by making more and more stock Android applications are “updateable” like Gmail and Google Maps are today.

The latest from Rubin has been giving the media a sneak peak of a coming Motorola Tablet running Android Honeycomb rumored to be available sometime in early 2011. This was unveiled nonchalantly during the D: Dive Into Mobile conference, showing that the man is so entrenched in Android that showing off a coveted device is nothing more than Monday in his eyes.

Rubin has had an interesting year – pushing development, advocating adoption, and helping shape the course of Android – and will continue to move the Android operating system forward into 2011. Even though some criticize Rubin for not making Android open enough, or allowing carriers to do whatever they want with the Android OS, one has to remember that this type of model is something that the world has not experienced in the mobile realm on such a wide scale. Android is a free, open, redistributable operating system that anyone can use in almost any product imaginable. Without visionaries like Mr. Rubin leading the cause, we would be in a much more closed ecosystem than we are today.


This article is part of a series of profiles on the people who most-impacted Android in 2010. Read more about the Android Person of the Year series here.