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Google didn't have to "start over" with Android because of the iPhone

Posted: , by Michael H.

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Google didn't have to
Earlier today, a story came out that was sure to rile up all of the trolls and fanboys on the interwebs, but it may not have been quite accurate. The story claimed that Google had to "start over" with Android once the iPhone was announced, but a Google engineer actually spoke about and disputed that claim back in May of 2012, when the first info of the Android "Sooner" came out.

When the first images of the failed "Sooner" came out, there was the general assumption that the iPhone caused Google to rethink the entire platform; and, the recent article from The Atlantic seemed to confirm that suspicion. But, OSnews had a comment on its May 2012 story from Dianne Hackborn, who had been an Android developer at Google since early 2006. In the comment, Hackborn tells a very different story. Hackborn says that Google was developing two different phones in parallel - the Sooner and the Dream (aka the G1):

From a software perspective, Sooner and Dream were basically the same -- different form-factors, one without a touch screen -- but they were not so different as this article indicates and the switch between them was not such a huge upheaval.

The big difference between the devices was that the Sooner was being designed based on the current set of smartphones - Windows Mobile, Symbian, and BlackBerry - while the Dream was being designed with all of the future-thinking hardware - sensors, touchscreen, etc. Hackborn goes on to claim that the decision to drop the Sooner happened before the iPhone announcement, because while the hardware was ready, the software wasn't. She points out that even when the SDK preview was released a year before the Dream, there was a huge amount of work to be done "stabilizing, optimizing, and productizing the platform."

If Hackborn is telling the truth on this, it gives a very different spin to the story from The Atlantic, because you'll notice that in that piece there are only three quotes which are used to directly support the claims being made. First and second, there is Google engineer Chris DeSalvo saying, "...as a Google engineer, I thought 'We're going to have to start over,'" and also describing what Google had as being "so nineties". The only other quote is Andy Rubin saying, "I guess we’re not going to ship that phone." It seems reasonable to assume Rubin was referring to the Sooner with that quote, but the quote certainly doesn't imply "starting over" if it is true that Google also had the Dream in the works, it simply confirms that the Sooner was a bad option. 

Either way, it seems that there is more to the story than what we thought. 

source: OSnews via BGR

74 Comments
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posted on 20 Dec 2013, 11:46 13

1. XperiaFanZone (Posts: 1471; Member since: 21 Sep 2012)


Well that escalated quickly.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 12:08 4

7. AppleHateBoy (unregistered)


Why am I surprised?!

Anyway. I am happy with how it turned out on the end. But I still do care about Android's history.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 12:58

15. rf1975 (Posts: 249; Member since: 01 Aug 2011)


I read it onwww.9to5mac.com before here.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 13:52

19. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5951; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Escalated and then de-escalated. Sounds like someone might have been in more of a rush to get a story out than to check their facts.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 14:12 1

23. androiphone20 (Posts: 1517; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


not so fast here's a quote, "On the other hand, The Atlantic quoted
several Google engineers working on the
project including former Android head
Andy Rubin, with all of them suggesting
that the iPhone announcement made
them realize the Sooner prototype would
not measure up to the first iOS device,
and convinced them to focus on
launching a different first Android device
than they had originally planned.". Yes Michael ahem they had to rethink cuz Andy doesn't say 'Holy Crap' for nothing

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 14:40 9

26. tedkord (Posts: 5246; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Yes, they realized the Sooner was not going sell, so they dropped it and instead focused on the Dream, which they had been developing in parallel since at least the beginning of 2006. And since they were designing a hardware agnostic OS, the software on both was largely the same.

This isn't a new story. Another Android engineer told this a couple of years ago.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 14:55

31. androiphone20 (Posts: 1517; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


This all makes sense, when Apple unveiled the iphone in 2007, Google pushed to make Android open source so that it could be developed faster than iOS but worries about fragmentation soon came back to haunt them. In the parallel universe Samsung went all sketchball, bashed apple to it's successhttp://m.cnet.com/news/samsung-bashing-apple-works/57598338, shady corporate companies :P

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 15:04

32. androiphone20 (Posts: 1517; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


*light bulb* all these widgets, homescreen and drawer stuff was Google ridding iOS's simple user-friendly UI to come up with something different (believe it or not but noone is ever going to tell you they made these tweaks ever, from a logical standpoint this is very likely)

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 15:14 4

37. jroc74 (Posts: 5192; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


Uh....you do realize widgets were in Win Mo at the time. Maybe Palm. How in the world does Android doing widgets ride off of iOS simple user friendly UI?

If anything you would think iOS woulda had widgets too.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 15:27

42. androiphone20 (Posts: 1517; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


"How in the world does Android
doing widgets ride off of iOS simple
user friendly UI?", really do I have to answer to that?

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 15:36 2

44. jroc74 (Posts: 5192; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


You cant when widgets were in Win Mo before the iPhone came out.

?

Even the LG Prada had widgets....which is what I would call Android a copy of if it copied anything.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 15:47

46. androiphone20 (Posts: 1517; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


you flew right past my point, iOS was (still is) simple and straight to the point. No widgets, homescreen and drawer model, just an array of apps which you can launch instantaneously. Google chose to differentiate it by implementing that model (surprise it worked)

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 16:03

49. jroc74 (Posts: 5192; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


So how in the world is this riding off of Apple's design? How else can you do it? There are examples of launchers in the Google store trying different ways...but for the most part they all have app drawers....

Flew past your point? I'm still trying to find it.....

But since we're on this subject....tell me what you think of IOS's Notification Center...

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 16:00 1

48. jroc74 (Posts: 5192; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


I just realized you said home screen and app drawer stuff is riding off of Apple simple user friendly UI design.

....home screens were out waaaaay before the iPhone and the iPhone doesnt have an app drawer.

??? Seriously....I am starting to not understand your points. I dont think you do either. So you mean if someone takes what you do....and doesnt copy it....but thinks of a different way of doing it....its a copy, riding.

Alrighty then...

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 15:54 1

47. jroc74 (Posts: 5192; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


Seems like you broke the internet with this link.....here....let me help you:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-57598338-71/samsung-bashing-apple-works/

Anyway...how did they push to make it open source after the the iPhone was released when that was the plan from the beginning? They bought Android in 2005.....

http://www.webcitation.org/5wk7sIvVb

Look at the initial incorporation date of Android....2003. Google bought it in 2005. "

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Android_%28operating_system%29

"Android was unveiled in 2007......along with the founding of the Open Handset Alliance: a consortium of hardware, software, and telecommunication companies devoted to advancing open standards for mobile devices" separated for emphasis.

There was no open source push after the release of the iPhone....open source was their goal from the beginning.

?

Alot of your posts lead me to believe you are trying really hard to do something....what it is I dont know....

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 21:44

60. androiphone20 (Posts: 1517; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


Google first develops Android 'internally'http://m.cnet.com/news/google-carves-an-android-path-through-open-source-world/9949793

posted on 21 Dec 2013, 05:16

67. jroc74 (Posts: 5192; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


And thats supposed to mean it wasnt/isnt open source?

Wow.

I really dont think you understand what open source really means. I'm also feeling a lil more generous

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-9911137-37.html

That link is in the article you posted...

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 21:56

62. androiphone20 (Posts: 1517; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


I'm feeling generous today, it's christmas evehttp://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTC_Dream

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 21:57

63. androiphone20 (Posts: 1517; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


I'm feeling generous todayhttp://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTC_Dream

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 20:12 5

56. johnbftl (Posts: 224; Member since: 09 Jun 2012)


Google didn't push for Android to be open source. Android was open source before it was acquired by Google. The OS was created by the Open Handset Alliance, then purchased by Google. That is well documented. The announcement of the first iPhone had no bearing on Android being open source. The “fragmentation" issue you're speaking of has to do with OEMs and carriers rolling out updates to handsets. Google releases all versions of Android's OS for download the day of release. If you're bright enough to root your phone and install the new kernel without bricking your phone, enjoy. That's the beauty of open source. Don't whine about something that in reality doesn't really exist. The truth is you're either A) Too stupid to do update it yourself, or B) too lazy. Even if you can't write code, go on xDA and they have step by step for rooting and side loading essentially every phone. At its core, Android is a Linux kernel. It takes a lot of effort to mess up Linux.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 21:46

61. androiphone20 (Posts: 1517; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


please see post no. 60

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 22:34 3

64. johnbftl (Posts: 224; Member since: 09 Jun 2012)


You do realize that article was written 5 months before the HTC G1 was released right? I don't think you understand what open source means. Google writes the source code for the software version, or kernel, then makes it available for the public. It can then be downloaded, and code can be written on top of it, to manipulate it. That's how apps are created. The difference between Android and Apple is Apple charges people to be app developers. They also have to have all apps approved by Apple to be sold in the app store. Anyone can write an app and upload to Google's Play Store.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 23:14

66. androiphone20 (Posts: 1517; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


http://forums-cdn.appleinsider.com/f/f3/350x700px-LL-f3c19680_ku-medium-11.jpeg

posted on 23 Dec 2013, 14:40

73. SirCheese (Posts: 15; Member since: 28 Jul 2012)


Android was originally developed by Android Inc, not OHA.

"Initially developed by Android, Inc., which Google backed financially and later bought in 2005,[13] Android was unveiled in 2007 along with the founding of the Open Handset Alliance: a consortium of hardware, software, and telecommunication companies devoted to advancing open standards for mobile devices.[14"

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 15:12 2

36. jroc74 (Posts: 5192; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


I dont understand why so many ppl keep overlooking that they had 2 types of phones in development in parallel like you said.

Really....all this shows is that Google guessed right. They didnt have to try to compete with the iPhone. Ppl dont remember that when the iPhone launched...it didnt take the world by storm over night. It was still unknown, new and a risky move. It took 3 years to get the #1 spot in market share. Thats not overnight.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 15:22

41. androiphone20 (Posts: 1517; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


you're also overlooking that Sooner was their prime focus that's why they thought of shipping the BB-esque device. The iphone was Apple's prime focus there were no second guesses and this project was so intense some engineers had to quit after the successful announcement in '07. This is just like the ipad launch, other companies wanted to develop slates but they did it right after the ipad

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 15:28

43. androiphone20 (Posts: 1517; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


*ship it first

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 19:20 1

53. tedkord (Posts: 5246; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Sooner was not their primary focus. It was just the one that was further along because it was based on existing hardware standards. The dream was more outside the box and was going to take longer to get to market

posted on 21 Dec 2013, 05:22

68. jroc74 (Posts: 5192; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


I dont think he understands what parallel means....

Like I said before....Google ddint have to try to compete with the iPhone, no one made them. They could have continued along the BB llike path. They just guessed right.

What if the iPhone woulda tanked like the Bandai Pippen? All that woulda happened is Google woulda been extreme;y ready with a Plan B.

posted on 21 Dec 2013, 05:27

69. jroc74 (Posts: 5192; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


Look at others that didnt guess right. Win Mo and BB come to mind. Look where they are now.

One is teetering on the brink of collapse and the other is barely holding on to a weak 3rd place.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 14:49 5

29. Ashoaib (Posts: 2423; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)


Escalated or not, andriod was developed n its great... apple made a rethink or whoever, it doesnt matter now... andriod is far better then such a limited software ios... andriod made apple to rethink and come up with ios7, so now andriod is the driving force, not apple

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 11:47 2

2. apple4never (Posts: 974; Member since: 08 May 2013)


fanboys gonna fan lol

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 11:51 1

3. 9_HeLLs_oF_DrOid (Posts: 124; Member since: 02 Jan 2012)


Oh look!! Lies. All lies, I say. Apple was the reason for Android.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 13:16 3

16. Finalflash (Posts: 1896; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)


Dude, don't you know, Apple invented Android.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 14:07 5

22. andynaija (Posts: 485; Member since: 08 Sep 2012)


No Apple did not invent Android. Silly goat-human

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 23:09 1

65. hurrycanger (Posts: 1287; Member since: 01 Dec 2013)


Apple invented everything. You didn't know?

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 11:53 1

4. N-fanboy (Posts: 538; Member since: 12 Jan 2013)


Good to know.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 11:56 1

5. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3293; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


Good job Michael, you corrected Daniel.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 12:02 1

6. hmd74 (Posts: 389; Member since: 31 Jan 2013)


Viva Google...

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 12:09 1

8. sprockkets (Posts: 1351; Member since: 16 Jan 2012)


Touchscreen prototype:

http://asia.cnet.com/an-early-look-at-googles-android-62034337.htm#1

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 14:28

24. androiphone20 (Posts: 1517; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


here's a link for anyone who was butthurt by the first report ;)http://www.wired.com/design/2013/12/12designsthatshapedgadgetstoday/

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 14:28

25. androiphone20 (Posts: 1517; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


here's a link for anyone who was butthurt by the first report ;)http://www.wired.com/design/2013/12/12designsthatshapedgadgetstoday/

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 12:14

9. InspectorGadget80 (Posts: 6726; Member since: 26 Mar 2011)


Of course it have to come from BGR

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 12:15 5

10. jroc74 (Posts: 5192; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


Of course...leave it to Michael to offer another balanced POV.

Hindsight being 20/20.....lets say Apple never took the gamble and held off on the iPhone. LG and the Prada would have been the one ppl try to give credit to for the modern day smartphone.

IMO LG doesnt get enough credit for the Prada, and it should. No matter how good or bad it was. I am inclined give more credit to Apple for the Newton. I still give credit to Apple for taking the risk with the orig iPhone. But I wont go as far as to say without the iPhone there would be no modern day smartphones. Apple isnt the first and wont be the last company that takes risks.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 13:27 1

17. AntiFanBoyz (Posts: 111; Member since: 30 Nov 2013)


Agreed. Apple didn't revolutionize the smartphone industry; they were a catalyst for the mostly inevitable. That's still kudos worthy.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 20:51 1

58. ardent1 (Posts: 1997; Member since: 16 Apr 2011)


Now that is a dumb comment.

At that time, you had Research in Motion dominating the smartphone industry and how Samsung was copying RIM with a "Black Jack" product playing off the Blackberry name.

Then Apple came along and revolutionized the smartphone industry by introducing a device for both consumers and business people -- it revolutionized the shape of the smartphone, taught the world to build a device that allows people to enjoy using the web, etc.

The industry went from keyboards and/or the use of a stylus to multi-touch. Unnecessary buttons were removed. Aesthetics and build quality was introduced. Gorilla was made mainstream. The list goes on and on. People are now typing on glass.

posted on 21 Dec 2013, 05:36

70. jroc74 (Posts: 5192; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


I take it you dont know the history of the LG Prada....or continue to choose to dismiss and overlook it. Figures.

Like I said in my post....hindsight.

Only reason Apple is thought of and not the Prada is because the iPhone had more attention. More marketing. LG kinda dropped the ball with marketing and garnering interest in the Prada.

How can a phone that comes out before the iPhone be considered copying like some articles tried to state back when the iPhone launched? How can the iPhone come out after the Prada....and be seen as revolutionizing the smartphone industry?

A Back to the Future, Terminator sequel? Like in some court cases....sometimes.....ppl get off not because the're innocent....but because they have better lawyers....

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 12:22 1

11. Whateverman (Posts: 3231; Member since: 17 May 2009)


I guess it's believable... after all, there were very successful touch screens from Palm. But even so, what Apple came out with was a new evolution in the market. Itmade everyone change they way they made phones. I don't think that's a bad thing.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 12:44 9

13. tedkord (Posts: 5246; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


That's certainly true. But it was built off what came before. Icon grids came from Palm. Capacitive touchscreen was in the Prada before. Slide to unlock came from Neonode. Pinch to zoom was demonstrated on several platforms prior. That's how tech advances - you build on the innovations of the past. This idea that nine if this existed before the iPhone is ludicrous.

And since Android came out, Apple had been lifting ideas from it. Drop down notifications, quick toggles, etc...

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 18:18 3

52. Whateverman (Posts: 3231; Member since: 17 May 2009)


BOOM!!! There it is. +1 sir

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 12:30

12. cripton805 (Posts: 995; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)


It doesnt matter, Apple was exclusive to ATT and no way I was going to switch to that crappy service at the time. I was happy with my first gen Samsung Omnia and I considered that phone better than the iPhone 3g, 3gs, and BB Storm.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 13:55

20. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5951; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Still is crappy. There are places that have not had signal since 2007 that still do not have signal. And these dead zones are on major highways in the S.F. Bay Area.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 12:55

14. protozeloz (Posts: 5381; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


*grabs popcorn* oh this Is getting good, anyone who saw that old Google video should know about the existence of two devices

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 13:47

18. Tuxedo (Posts: 174; Member since: 19 Mar 2013)


lol, Its pretty clear what happened, no need to "spin" it up. One looks like BB and the other like iPhone, coincidence? BS

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 14:46 5

28. tedkord (Posts: 5246; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Except that both were in the works at the beginning of 2006. The iPhone looked like the Prada. Coincidence? It looked like the F700. Coincidence? No. Not coincidence, this was the direction the market was going. It was going to happen regardless of the iPhone that devices were going to be rectangular with a touchscreen dominating the face.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 15:09

33. androiphone20 (Posts: 1517; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


F700, please that ... thing, had a frigging keyboard slide and resistive touch. do get me started on the prada

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 15:10

34. androiphone20 (Posts: 1517; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


*don't

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 15:18 4

38. tedkord (Posts: 5246; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


What does any of that have to do with anything? It was a rectangular device with a full touchscreen dominating the face. The Prada was also, and the touchscreen was capacitive before the iPhone.

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 15:12

35. androiphone20 (Posts: 1517; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


THE IPHONE WAS 5 YEARS AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 15:19 13

39. tedkord (Posts: 5246; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Then how did the competition pass it in just 2-3 years? Delusional.

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