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Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management for Google, speaks during the company's Chrome event in San Francisco December 7, 2010.

BECK DIEFENBACH/REUTERS

Google Inc. has appointed Sundar Pichai the chief of its Android division, replacing Andy Rubin as the overseer of a software platform that in just a few years has become the world's most-used mobile software.

The move brings Google's mobile software, applications and Chrome browser under one umbrella. Larry Page, Google's chief executive and co-founder, credited Rubin for evangelizing Android more than half a decade ago and said the decision to switch was Rubin's. Page was mum on Rubin's future role.

Rubin built Android into a software platform used by most of the world's largest handset manufacturers, from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. to HTC Corp., supplanting the platform of Apple Inc.

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Android is now installed on roughly two-thirds of the world's smartphones, supplanting Apple Inc at the pinnacle of the fast-moving mobile arena.

Anrdoid tablets are also expected to overtake Apple's iPad in terms of shipments in 2013, IT research house IDC predicted on Tuesday.

"Going forward, Sundar Pichai will lead Android, in addition to his existing work with Chrome and Apps. Sundar has a talent for creating products that are technically excellent yet easy to use-and he loves a big bet," Page wrote in a Wednesday blogpost.

"Andy's decided it's time to hand over the reins and start a new chapter at Google. Andy, more moonshots please!"

Pichai, who began his engineering training in India before moving to the United States, aggressively pushed Google's Chrome browser in 2008, when Microsoft Corp's Explorer lorded over the market. Chrome now commands a roughly 35 percent market share according to Web traffic analyzers StatCounter.

He is also credited with the development of some of the company's more successful apps, such as Calendar and Gmail.

"While Andy's a really hard act to follow, I know Sundar will do a tremendous job doubling down on Android as we work to push the ecosystem forward," Page said.

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Shares in the company slipped 0.2 percent to $825.83 in afternoon trading.

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