Days before Google's annual I/O conference in San Francisco commences, Sundar Pichai, the company's new head of Android, spoke to Wired's Steven Levy about his duties as bossman, the future of OS, challenges for Android, and what's next for Google-branded hardware.
An excerpt from the interview appears below.
As Android’s new head, what do you see as the biggest challenge?
First let me talk about the opportunities. The scale and scope is even bigger than what I had internalized. The momentum — in terms of new phones and new tablets — is breathtaking. I see huge opportunity, because it is just shocking how much of the world doesn’t have access to computing. In his book Eric [Schmidt] talks about the next 5 billion [the people on earth who aren’t connected to the internet who soon will be]. That’s genuinely true and it excites me. One of the great things about an open system like Android is it addresses all ends of the spectrum. Getting great low-cost computing devices at scale to the developing world is especially meaningful to me.
Now what about the challenges?
Here’s the challenge: without changing the open nature of Android, how do we help improve the whole world’s end-user experience? For all your users, no matter where they are, or what phone or tablet they are buying or what tablet they are buying.
What does that mean when a company like Facebook comes out with Home, which changes that experience?
It’s exciting that Facebook thought of Android first in this case. Android was intended to be very customizable. And we welcome innovations. As for the specific product, my personal take on it is that time will tell. To Mark [Zuckerberg], people are the center of everything. I take a slightly different approach. I think life is multifaceted: people are a huge part of it, but not the center and be-all of everything.