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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 14

1. XperiaFanZone (Posts: 2146; 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: 258; 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: 5993; 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: 1654; 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: 12210; 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: 1654; 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: 1654; 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: 6015; 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: 1654; 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: 6015; 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: 1654; 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: 6015; 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: 6015; 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: 6015; 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: 1654; 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: 6015; 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: 1654; 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: 1654; 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: 281; 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: 1654; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


please see post no. 60

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 22:34 3

64. johnbftl (Posts: 281; 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: 1654; 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: 6015; 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: 1654; 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: 1654; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


*ship it first

posted on 20 Dec 2013, 19:20 1

53. tedkord (Posts: 12210; 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: 6015; 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: 6015; 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.

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