WASHINGTON – There has been a little shake-up in the smartphone industry this week, with the announced departure of Hugo Barra, one of the team leaders for Google’s Android mobile operating system.
Barra said Wednesday he is leaving the tech titan after more than five years to join Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi. Barra, the vice president of product management for Android, had been one of the most visible members of Google’s Android team.
His new position as vice president of Xiaomi Global will not take him too far out of the Google ecosystem — the firm makes Android-based phones. Xiaomi touts high-end hardware and software enhancements to Google’s base operating system. The company has been gaining ground in the Chinese smartphone market, with a 5 percent market share, compared with Apple’s 4.8 percent and Samsung’s 17.6.
Cheaper devices running Android are extremely popular in China, but that success has not necessarily translated into revenue for Google. Many of the phones are stripped of Google apps and services, including its search engine.