Android product head Hugo Barra to leave Google

Barra heads for greener pastures at Chinese handset manufacturer Xiaomi. But what will that mean for Android?

It might be time to add Android's Hugo Barra to the growing list of departures from Google. Yesterday, AllThingsD reported that Barra, who currently serves at the vice president of product management for Android, is leaving to take on a new role at one of China's high-profile handset manufacturers, Xiaomi. Today, Barra confirmed the move.

Barra is the third executive to leave from the Android team, following Android co-founder Andy Rubin's sudden departure and Android engineer Jean-Baptise Queru. It's unclear what Barra's next role will be at Xiaomi, but it's likely he'll have a major hand in product development. Xiaomi produces high-end Android phones for the Chinese market.

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It'll be a difficult exit for Google, as Barra heads up all of Google's Android product development. A representative from Google told AllThingsD, "We wish Hugo Barra the best. We'll miss him at Google and we're excited that he is staying within the Android ecosystem."

Android is quickly becoming a ship without a captain. Now that all of the division's most prominent faces have departed, the future of Android is in flux. It remains to be seen how long Senior VP Sundar Pichai can continue to man both the Android and Chrome OS teams before he is forced to abandon one for the other or merge the two platforms.

With Google steadily unifying its services across operating systems, a merger between Chrome OS and Android seems, more than ever, unavoidable. And with Samsung eating up a majority of smartphone profits, while simultaneously trying to cut Google out of the picture as much as possible, it wouldn't be crazy to think that Android could be folded into Chrome.

This story, "Android product head Hugo Barra to leave Google" was originally published by TechHive.