Google Chairman: Android Didn’t Copy iPhone Because It Predated It
Prior to his untimely death in October, Apple Chairman Steve Jobs accused Google of ripping off the iPhone with its Android mobile OS. “I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong,” he told biographer Walter Isaacson. “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”
A contentious quote, and one that Google has remained silent on since it was first publicized. Until today, when Chairman Eric Schmidt summarily dismissed it. Asked to comment on Jobs’s remark during his visit to South Korea today, Schmidt first declined, and then said simply that Android predated the iPhone.
“I’ve decided not to comment on what’s been written on a book after his death,” Schmidt said. “Steve is a fantastic human being and someone who I miss very dearly. As a general comment, I think most people would agree that Google is a great innovator and I would also point out that the Android effort started before the iPhone effort.”
Which is likely true. Android was founded in 2003 and acquired by Google in 2005, years before Apple debuted the first iPhone in 2007. Perhaps Apple began work on the iPhone prior to 2003. Who knows? That’s not the question here. The real question is whether Jobs’s accusation that Google ripped off Apple’s vision of a mobile device is supported. And Schmidt, by deferring to the historical timeline, dodges it entirely.
A wise move, considering what the company’s prototype Android handset looked like before the debut of the iPhone, and what the first Android smartphone — the HTC Dream — looked like when it finally arrived at market.