Xiaomi’s vice president Hugo Barra had lots of good things to say about Android, Google’s mobile business he once led before abruptly deciding to leave in 2013, during an interview with Bloomberg’s Emily Chang on Thursday.
“Android was probably the best decision that Google ever made — you know, years ago,” Barra told Chang. “And, of course, the fruit of that will be around for many decades.”
Barra’s comment was made in response to Chang’s question about Android’s free business model, and whether making it an open source platform was the right decision.
“I think Android as an open platform is the only call that Google could have made on this. It would be impossible to get the level of adoption that we’ve seen — from a closed operating system. It just wouldn’t go anywhere,” he added.
Google offers its Android mobile operating system for free to other smartphone makers. Smartphone manufacturers like Amazon, Samsung, and Xiaomi built their own smartphones on top of Android’s platform. By doing so, Android has been able to quickly become the largest market share leader in the global smartphone market.
Barra also argued Google would never turn Android into walled, paid service, like Apple, as that would make things “unfair” for its users and Google.
“Think about what would have happened if Android wasn’t open… It means that people would not necessarily make a choice of which browser to use, which search engine to use,” Barra continued. “When you have a closed operating system that mandates, you know, certain behaviours and people, it’s unfair, right? It would be unfair for Google and — and — basically anybody else.”
He continued, “So absolutely, one of the best things that have ever happened in tech over the last few decades.”
It’s also why Barra and Xiaomi have no interest in building their own mobile operating system. Some mobile companies, like Samsung, have tried to build their own standalone mobile OS, but failed to gain any kind of traction.
“We wouldn’t build our own operating system…simple because it doesn’t make sense to do that. We’d much rather use that engineering horsepower building interesting services and capabilities on top of Android that add value — versus — versus starting again,” he said.