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Top Android exec Hugo Barra ditches Google for Chinese firm Xiaomi

One of Google's lead Android execs is set to leave the company for Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, a rising star that recently overtook Apple in the Chinese market.

Hugo Barra joined Google in 2008 and is currently the vice president of product management for Android.

Barra has been a public face of Android, featuring prominently at Google's annual I/O developer conferences. He also launched the new Nexus 7 2013 tablet in San Francisco last month.

Confirming his departure, a Google spokesperson said: "We wish Hugo Barra the best."

"We'll miss him at Google and we're excited that he is staying within the Android ecosystem."

AllThingsD has reported that a romantic relationship between Barra and another Google employee recently ended, with Barra's former partner now seeing Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who himself split from his wife not long ago.

Sources have told AllThingsD that Barra's resignation is not linked to the rather awkward intracompany love triangle however, adding that he had handed in his notice before learning of the new relationship between Brin and the mystery employee.

Xiaomi , which runs on Google's Android OS, recently pushed the iPhone into last place in China, taking a 5 per cent market share in the last quarter.

Despite launching only in 2011, the Chinese firm's formula of producing high end devices which offer similar functionality to Galaxy devices, but at half the price, as well as budget smartphones, has proved hugely successful.

Barra's resignation follows the abrupt departure of Android creator Andy Rubin from the team earlier this year, although the former Android chief did decide to stay inside the company.

Image credit: Flickr (Stephen Shankland)