Last week, when Google's Android chief Andy Rubin stepped down from his post, speculation ran rampant throughout the tech industry that the company might be preparing to turn its back on the popular mobile operating system. Most notably, with new products like the Chrome-based Pixel making waves, some have wondered if this means Google plans to either totally move away from Android, or perhaps merge Android and Chrome OS into one.
Google CEO Larry Page has remained characteristically mum on the subject, but the company's frequently candid chairman, Eric Schmidt, offered a bit more clarity this week during a visit to India. According to Reuters, Schmidt said the two operating systems will definitely remain separate, but indicated that there might be some overlap in the future.
While the stunning success of Android has taken the mobile device world by storm, offering the only major challenge to Apple's success with iOS, Google can't control the platform in the same way that it can with its proprietary Chrome browser-based operating system because Android is open source. With its Kindle device, Amazon has forked Android into its own custom version of the OS, and rumors are already circulating that Samsung is strongly considering creating its own Android fork in order to wield more control over its mobile future, a move that would significantly diminish Google's influence over the mobile market place.
The direction Google decides to take in the coming months regarding Android versus Chrome could end up determining the future of the entire company. So although products like the Android-based Nexus 7 have been considered a relative hit with users, we shouldn't be surprised to see Google pushing more devices like the Pixel over the next couple of years. What form Schmidt's "OS overlap" might take remains unclear, but his sentiments hint that a decision, in one direction or another, will likely be made sometime in the near future.