About a year after leaving Google, Andy Rubin, the architect and mastermind behind Google’s Android OS, is reportedly looking to get back into the smartphone business. Only this time around, Rubin isn’t looking to develop new software, but rather new hardware.
According to a report published by The Information earlier this week, Rubin has begun recruiting talent in an effort to develop a new smartphone. Notably, Rubin, upon leaving the search giant, set up his own hardware incubator.
“People in the mobile industry say Mr. Rubin has tried to recruit personnel to help build a new phone company,” Amir Efrati writes, “likely through Playground Fund, his vehicle for investing in startups. Playground has raised about $300 million.”
At this point, it remains unclear if Rubin is looking to take on an involved role with this rumored hardware startup or if he is simply interested in helping it get off the ground. Regardless, anytime someone of Rubin’s pedigree makes a move in the smartphone space, it’s worth keeping an eye on.
The smartphone market today is in flux, and arguably presents an ideal time for a new hardware entrant with expertise (and money to burn) to make a strong play. To wit, Apple today currently enjoys 94% of all smartphone profits, primarily because it dominates the high-end of the market. Competitors like HTC and Samsung, meanwhile, continue to see their profits trend downwards.
As a result, one can make a strong case that the smartphone market today is in something of transitional period. Not only is Google considering getting into the hardware game, but some have even taken the admittedly bold point of view that Samsung, in just 5 years time, may remove itself from the market altogether. All that said, the only constant in the smartphone market today is that Apple lacks true competition at the high-end, perhaps paving the way for Andy Rubin to make some waves with a brash new start-up.