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Google didn't expect such a good product from Apple

A new article from The Atlantic takes a look at the early days of the largest mobile software rivalry today: Android vs. iOS.

The article profiles Google's progress with Android up to the point where the iPhone was initally announced in 2007, and shortly after when the search giant realized it had to make some serious changes to the Android operating system before it was finally unveiled. 

Google started working on Android in 2005, keeping the project as secret as possible. The new OS was formed in Google’s Building 44 by four dozen engineers. 

After putting in 60-80 hour work weeks for about two years, Google's Android Chief Andy Rubin (as well as the rest of the Android team) got a huge surprise. On January 9, 2007, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone.

It wasn't a secret that Apple was releasing a phone. Google knew that, but it really didn't expect the iPhone to be as good as it was at the time. In fact, Google was more threatened by Microsoft's entrance into the mobile realm, since Microsoft was the computer software leader for so long. 

Google also worried that Microsoft would release a phone exclusively with its own search engine instead of Google search, which could really hurt Google's business. At the time, a lot of Google's income depended on search ads, which appeared next to its search results. 

It's hard to believe that Microsoft would be such a feared mobile contender today, since it currently has about 3.6 percent global market share and Android just passed the 80 percent mark. But back before the iPhone and Android and Windows Phone came along, Google thought Microsoft could kill off its search engine the way it did Netscape with Internet Explorer in the 1990s. It figured that people would rush to whatever mobile browser Microsoft offered and possibly leave Google in the dust. 

However, it was Apple that surprised Google. The iPhone had a much prettier design than Google's current Android phone it was working on, with a large 3.5-inch touchscreen and no physical keyboard. The digital keyboard would only appear when needed and leave when it wasn't. Buttons for music, such as play and stop, only appeared when the music app was up.

Google's Android phone at the time (codenamed "Sooner"), however, had a physical keyboard and a tiny screen with no touchscreen capabilities. It knew it had to make some changes to its design, and it had to make its phone better than the iPhone.

But one area where Google felt confident despite the iPhone's appearance was with Sooner's Android software. It felt Android had a superior product with a full Internet browser, Google's Web apps (including search, Maps, and YouTube), it could run more than one application at a time, and the OS could run on any smartphone or other portable device. 

The iPhone, on the other hand, couldn't run more than one application at a time, needed to connect to iTunes regularly, and wasn't preparing an app store at the time. 

“I never got the feeling that we should scrap what we were doing—that the iPhone meant game over. But a bar had been set, and whatever we decided to launch, we wanted to make sure that it cleared the bar," said Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Rubin and the rest of the Android team started working on an Android phone codenamed "Dream," which would have all of its software features plus a cleaner design. It still had a physical keyboard, but it slid out for extra convenience. It also had the touchscreen capabilities like the iPhone. 

And so, the first Android smartphone -- called the T-Mobile G1 from HTC -- was released nearly two years after the iPhone. 

Now, Android pummels the competition with the greatest market share than any other OS. Apple's iOS comes in second place but far behind with 12.9 percent global market share.

You can get the full story from The Atlantic here

Source: The Atlantic

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What about Palm?
By SigmundEXactos on 12/23/2013 10:20:30 AM , Rating: 3
As an owner of the Palm Treo 600 (from bloody 2003!!), 650, and 755p....which had:
1) a touch screen (which blackberry didn't)
2) a software ecosystem (my favorite was the NES/SNES/Genesis/etc emulator)
3) partial multitasking (I could play music in the background while doing stuff in the foreground)
4) full MS Office editors
5) web browser
6) copy & paste (unlike the first iPhone)
7) an excellent hardware keyboard
8) GPS navigation (via bluetooth GPS receiver & Tom Tom software)
9) cool accessories (bluetooth keyboards)
etc etc etc. It beat the crap off the first couple of iPhones.

Articles like this annoy the crap out of me, as if the universe was just iphone vs. android (and occasionally MS and blackberry).

RE: What about Palm?
By drycrust3 on 12/23/2013 10:36:40 AM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately history is written by the victors, not those who didn't win. HP bought Palm as part of their plan to stay ahead of the competition, so they could have easily been fighting with Google and Apple, or more likely been fighting with either Google or Apple, but they threw in the towel while sprinting to the finish line. Now the world thinks in terms of Android and iPhone. I think this is a decision that will haunt HP for decades.

RE: What about Palm?
By retrospooty on 12/23/2013 10:52:34 AM , Rating: 3
"I think this is a decision that will haunt HP for decades."

LOL... But in truth, HP was full speed ahead making extremely dumb decisions a decade prior to that. Dumping Palm/WebOS was just another in a long line of dumb.

RE: What about Palm?
By ven1ger on 12/23/2013 4:22:48 PM , Rating: 2
Alas, hindsight is always easy.

HP made bad decisions, but at the time it may have made sense, businesses make all sorts of decisions that later, in hindsight looks bad. I agree HP have made some really, really bad decisions but so far they haven't gone belly up, even MS has made some extremely bad decisions, probably more than HP. Luckily, both companies have profitable other businesses that can prop them up when they make those dumb decisions. Others are not so lucky and eventually go out of business, especially if you mess up with your main products, i.e. Kodak, Blackberry, etc.

RE: What about Palm?
By retrospooty on 12/23/2013 10:54:30 AM , Rating: 1
Yup... I would argue that the original iPhone was FAR more a ripoff of Treo than anything since has ripped off the iPhone. the iPhone took all that and added one thing, the nice multitouch screen. It was just hte one thing that made it nice to use. Previous smartphone were technically capable, highly useful mobile devices that were tedious to use. Apple make it nice to use.

RE: What about Palm?
By Tony Swash on 12/23/13, Rating: -1
RE: What about Palm?
By retrospooty on 12/23/2013 11:40:24 AM , Rating: 2
Well Tony, the list of features and the VERY concept of Marrying a PDA with a phone came from Palm and RIMM. Apple took that pre-existing concept and added a nice touchscreen along with a nice touchscreen UI.

It was a great UI and it certainly changed things, but don't put the cart before the horse. It was a TOTAL ripoff with a nice UI feature added.

RE: What about Palm?
By retrospooty on 12/23/2013 11:43:23 AM , Rating: 3
"In what universe did this design transform the smart phone industry? "

I meant to add... It didn't "transform" it... it CREATED it you shill.

RE: What about Palm?
By Solandri on 12/24/2013 5:40:32 AM , Rating: 2
Well Tony, the list of features and the VERY concept of Marrying a PDA with a phone came from Palm and RIMM.

To be fair, while Palm and RIM were first to push the product out the door, by about 2005 pretty much everyone knew PDAs and phones were going to converge. Everyone except Microsoft. They'd just about defeated Palm in the PDA market around then, but completely ignored adding phone capabilities to WinCE / Windows Mobile despite legions of PDA owners begging for it so they wouldn't have to carry around two devices. Microsoft completely missed the boat on the smartphone (much like they missed the boat on the Internet), which is why they currently have only a 3.6% market share.

Apple took that pre-existing concept and added a nice touchscreen along with a nice touchscreen UI.

Remember, LG beat Apple by a month with a touchscreen phone.

You might also recognize some of the UI features Apple now tries to claim as its invention on phones, like the grid of apps, the four primary buttons on the bottom row, and phone icon (albeit not green).

I remember when the iPhone first came out, my impression was the biggest innovation/risk they took was the fully touchscreen keyboard. Pretty much all of the GUI stuff had already been done before, either on computers or tablet PCs. Even the touchscreen keyboard had been done on tablets, but on those you always had the physical keyboard as a fallback (and I did fall back to it on many occasions). On the iPhone, the touchscreen keyboard was it. IMHO that's really where Apple pushed the state of the art. Not the phone GUI.

RE: What about Palm?
By Gio6518 on 12/23/2013 11:55:45 AM , Rating: 2
transform the smart phone industry?

Agreed the iPAQ windows based smartphone and PDA from HP is what changed the game this is where crApple got their design "Innovation"

RE: What about Palm?
By Gio6518 on 12/23/2013 11:57:41 AM , Rating: 2
or this

Etc. Etc. Etc.....well you get the point....most of these are years before the first iPhoneY

RE: What about Palm?
By retrospooty on 12/23/2013 12:14:38 PM , Rating: 2
Say it aint sooooo!!!!

Nevermind, they will just ignore your post so they can act like Apple invented the smartphone in the next thread.

RE: What about Palm?
By Tony Swash on 12/23/13, Rating: -1
RE: What about Palm?
By retrospooty on 12/23/2013 12:45:10 PM , Rating: 1
Who said Apple didnt change it? The point is that Apple didnt invent it.

Apple copied the established lines like Treo and BB and put in a nice multitouch screen and UI and and improved upon it. That doesn't mean they own the market forever and others arent allowed to compete. You act like they deserve to be put on a pedestal for copying existing tech and making a better product. That is what companies do. To put it in perspective that is exactly what Google did to Apple. Apple took Palm's Treo, added some stuff and made a better smartphone. Google took Apple's iPhone and over time (finally) made a better smartphone. Lather rinse repeat. That is how the tech business works. Stop worshiping a company.

RE: What about Palm?
By Tony Swash on 12/23/13, Rating: -1
RE: What about Palm?
By retrospooty on 12/23/2013 4:08:58 PM , Rating: 2
1st off - Merry Christmas, Sorry I did see that and meant to reply but missed it by the time I was done typing.

I do agree with most of what you said. If you look at my other posts prior to replying to you you will probably agree with what I was saying. I agree Apple did change things, clearly. The frustration people have is acting like they own the entire smartphone world, when they don't and shouldn't. Apple, like many others took existing products added their own to existing tech and made it better. MS does that, Google does that, Samsung does that, LG, Moto, Sony and many others as well. Apple too, but they dont belong on a pedestal. Stop the worship, its a company run by humans.

RE: What about Palm?
By MichalT on 12/25/2013 12:07:08 AM , Rating: 2
I owned several Palm Treos. I really wanted to like them. They broke easily, crashed often and were so slow you'd want to throw the thing across the room. The only thing they were good for was to tether a laptop to the internet. Then you'd be violating the TOS, but its not like the carriers at the time were really watching for that.

Sure, the iPhone wasn't the first. But it was the first smartphone that I ever owned that I didn't want to get rid of after 3 months.

Android was a Blackberry ripoff at first
By tayb on 12/23/2013 9:00:18 AM , Rating: 2
Before the iPhone was released Android was a Blackberry ripoff. The early UI was so dull and uninspiring and it was based around a keyboard instead of finger input.

For everyone who says Apple never innovates please read the source article. Google literally scrapped what they had and basically started over in response to the iPhone. Current Android would have NEVER existed without that kick from Apple with the release of the original iPhone and iOS 1.0.

RE: Android was a Blackberry ripoff at first
By retrospooty on 12/23/2013 9:13:00 AM , Rating: 4
I don't think anyone says Apple doesn't innovate and/or push the envelope forward from time to time. They didn't invent multitouch, or smartphones, but they were certainly first to market with a multitouch smartphone and grade A app store to match it. Nicely done. Of course the whole industry re-thought their products after that. that is how business works. That doesn't give Apple the right to sue anyone and everyone that makes a smartphone.

OK, it was a homerun product in 2007. Congrats and congrats on the record breaking profits you reaped from your work... Now let the companies with the best products compete for the customers, not lawyers, judges and juries.

RE: Android was a Blackberry ripoff at first
By sdsdv10 on 12/23/2013 10:32:45 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think anyone says Apple doesn't innovate and/or push the envelope forward from time to time.

I understand you are trying to make a point, but have you read the same DailyTech comments on Apple as I have?!?!? :-P

By retrospooty on 12/23/2013 10:48:26 AM , Rating: 2
LOL... OK, point taken. Let me re-phrase that. I don't think anyone could seriously say that or say that and be taken seriously...

RE: Android was a Blackberry ripoff at first
By Nortel on 12/23/13, Rating: -1
By Fleeb on 12/23/2013 11:16:10 AM , Rating: 2
When Apple copied features of other smartphone makers, it was not called copying but was called taking existing features and making them revolutionary. So guess what a legal council said when Apple got sued for copying? He said something to the tune of, why can't the plaintiffs compete instead of declaring patent wars against Apple. All I can say to that is the plaintiffs are simply defending the patents that they legally own.

By retrospooty on 12/23/2013 11:33:43 AM , Rating: 2
Please, get real.

RE: Android was a Blackberry ripoff at first
By bug77 on 12/23/2013 9:49:59 AM , Rating: 1
There's a (huge) difference between inventing and innovating. And it's the former Apple catches flak for.

By retrospooty on 12/23/2013 9:59:09 AM , Rating: 4
Yup... Apple does a good job taking existing inventions and packaging it up into a product that alot of people want. They also do a good job acting as if they "invented" it and getting their hardcore fanbase all riled up when other companies package those same existing inventions into their own products.

Whatever though, It doesn't matter. When you go to buy a product (whether phone, tablet , laptop or desktop) you go to your store, and/or log into your chosen etailers site and buy whatever you want. All the legal wranglings have done little to stop competition.

By drycrust3 on 12/23/2013 10:23:13 AM , Rating: 2
Before the iPhone was released Android was a Blackberry ripoff. The early UI was so dull and uninspiring and it was based around a keyboard instead of finger input.

The Blackberry of that era was one of the top smart phones of the era, so for the Google team to be thinking in those terms isn't surprising. Even Jobs didn't really appreciate what the iPhone could become, because when you watch the video of the launch it becomes apparent that his concept of it was much more limited than what the iPhone has become.
I think apps and an application library were later additions, and yet the apps and the application library are really what define a smartphone.

By crimson117 on 12/23/2013 9:56:58 AM , Rating: 2
How did Google get so surprised - didn't it launch the Youtube app with the original iPhone? Or did apple make that app itself?

RE: youtube
By ilt24 on 12/23/2013 10:21:02 AM , Rating: 2
Along with Youtube, the original iPhone had Google maps and used Google for search.

This article says at least Google maps for the iphone was created very quickly.

RE: youtube
By Tony Swash on 12/23/13, Rating: -1
RE: youtube
By retrospooty on 12/23/2013 12:16:22 PM , Rating: 1
This is all I see when I read your biased poop.

By sprockkets on 12/23/2013 11:20:40 AM , Rating: 4
What a typical tiffany k article. Poorly researched and a repeat of an article already debunked years ago.

This quotes Diane Hackborn of Google who was there making Android from the start and both the touchscreen and BB form factors were developed at the same time, with the BB one dropped in favor of the touchscreen one. That isn't a major upheval and it makes sense because it wasn't long for them to release the G1, aka the "Dream", unlike MS who were totally caught with their pants down.

The Atlantic article is basically full of sht.

Old and good.
By majorpain on 12/24/2013 10:25:07 AM , Rating: 2
Well, till today nothing surprised me as much as the good old Nokia 7110, still have the love for its design and practical scroll wheel. None of the latest smartphones are as much good looking as Nokia 7110, and i do have a 4 months old Galaxy Win, messed around with iPhone 5 and older. The OS? Well, i remember having more quality time, actually talking with my friends. Call me old timer...

By SuicideNinja on 12/25/2013 1:34:28 AM , Rating: 2
Its too bad MS wasted resources with Zune instead of going directly to mobile with what they developed. As many have said, MS left themselves in the dust. WP7 was a great start, but way too late to the game. I enjoy using WP8 the most of all the devices I have (one or more of each). I still preferred WM6 devices over the BB's I ended up with. Using a BB now is torture. Apple really did pave the way for change. But the others caught up, and feel behind now. Who will change it next?

work at home..
By MaryMOsteen on 12/23/13, Rating: -1
"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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