Google has just announced that Andy Rubin is stepping down as head of Android — he'll be replaced by Sundar Pichai who is currently the senior VP of Chrome and Apps. Pichai will keep his current duties, as well. CEO Larry Page announced the change on Google's blog today, and also took a moment to tout the domination of Android in the mobile marketplace — more than 750 million Android devices have been activated globally, and 25 billion apps have been downloaded from Google Play. Judging from the blog post, it sounds like Rubin stepped down of his own accord and will remain at Google in an as-yet unspecified role. Page hailed Rubin's work, and asked him for "more moonshots, please!"

"More moonshots, please!"

While Rubin's move away from Android sounds amicable on the surface, there was some evidence recently that he's been off-message regarding Google's plans — particularly the rumored Google retail stores that several outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, reported on last month. Rubin denied those rumors, but it wouldn't surprise us to see the rumor return with Rubin's departure. As for Pichai, who is now the head of both Android and Chrome, there's strong possibility that his new role could bring us to a world when Chrome OS and Android are unified, or at least more closely linked — something that's been discussed and rumored since the launch of Chrome OS in December 2010.

As for where Rubin may wind up, we're expecting that his name will resurface on a major project sometime down the line — after successfully launching Android and making it "the most used mobile operating system in the world," he should have enough clout to do whatever he wants within Google going forward. We're reaching out to Google for more information on the switch and will update with any more information we hear.