In what is likely to be a windfall for Xiaomi, Google executive Hugo Barra is joining the firm and taking on the role of Global Vice President to help the Chinese smartphone creator grow internationally.
Hugo Barra has confirmed a move to Xiaomi, a Chinese smartphone manufacturer that has gone from strength to strength in recent years. While well-known in China, the brand is not often recognizable outside of Asia -- which is what Barra will attempt to tackle in his new role.
The former vice president of product management for Android at Google has worked for the tech giant for nearly five and a half years. A regular face at Google events and product launches, Barra has been heavily involved in development and expansion of the Android operating system, but will now focus his attention on the global expansion of Xiaomi products.
The Beijing-based company separates itself from cheap handset makers by manufacturing customized Android smartphones. Recently valued at $10 billion, the company claims a 2.5 percent stake in the Chinese smartphone market. In comparison, according to Analysys International, Apple has a 4.6 percent market share, and Samsung claims a market share of 18.6 percent.
Xiaomi has only been in operation for the past two years, but hopes to sell 20 million devices this year.
In a statement, Google confirmed the departure, and said that while the company will miss him, the tech giant is "excited that he is staying within the Android ecosystem."
Barra later took to Google+ to publish his thoughts on the move, calling it a "new career chapter" after working with the Google Android team for nearly three years. Barra said:
"In a few weeks, I'll be joining the Xiaomi team in China to help them expand their incredible product portfolio and business globally — as Vice President, Xiaomi Global. I'm really looking forward to this new challenge, and am particularly excited about the opportunity to continue to help drive the Android ecosystem.
It has been an amazing ride and true honor to be part of the Android team at Google."
Barra's departure follows Andy Rubin, Android's founder who stepped down earlier this year. Rubin decided it was "time to hand over the reins and start a new chapter at Google," and will remain on at the company while Sundar Pichai leads the Android and Chrome teams.