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

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


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

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74 Comments

72. luxzy801

Posts: 140; Member since: Jun 16, 2010

I think just by looking at the two phones, it becomes pretty obvious what was being done by google.They started developing the idea for a smartphone with a physical keyboard, one prototype was a palm/blackberry style with a 50/50 candybar + physical keyboard, the other was a HTC style full screen/slide out qwerty physical keyboard. Once the iPhone started getting more and more attention and the heavy hit on such companies as Palm and Blackberry with the 50/50 candy bar design, google decided to drop the 50/50 design and stay concentrated on the slide out design.

71. Edmund

Posts: 656; Member since: Jul 13, 2012

"trolls and fanboys on the interwebs" - the biggest of which is phone arena.

57. Jeradiah3

Posts: 1149; Member since: Feb 11, 2010

Android didnt have to "start over" with their OS, but they had to modify it to our demands. Im glad that they didnt start over because they wouldnt be the same if they did

30. androiphone20

Posts: 1654; Member since: Jul 10, 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

40. tedkord

Posts: 17520; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

And it all worked. Android did develop faster than iOS, to the point that Apple was out in a position of playing perpetual catchup, and Samsung started selling twice as many smartphones as Apple using Android.

27. GeekMovement unregistered

I just love and appreciate so much how smartphone technology skyrocketed since a couple years ago. Haven't been a smartphone nerd for very long, but ever since the HTC EVO first hit Sprint I was like ohhh. Then I learned about the iPhone and what a big impact it had on the cellphone market and was like wow! And then I continued to learn about the technologies behind smartphones and some history thanks to the "trolls and fanboys on the interwebs."

21. techie_t

Posts: 2; Member since: Dec 20, 2013

Well, all these fuss doesn't change the fact that we get options!

18. Tuxedo

Posts: 356; Member since: Mar 19, 2013

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

28. tedkord

Posts: 17520; Member since: Jun 17, 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.

33. androiphone20

Posts: 1654; Member since: Jul 10, 2013

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

34. androiphone20

Posts: 1654; Member since: Jul 10, 2013

*don't

38. tedkord

Posts: 17520; Member since: Jun 17, 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.

35. androiphone20

Posts: 1654; Member since: Jul 10, 2013

THE IPHONE WAS 5 YEARS AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION

39. tedkord

Posts: 17520; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

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

45. androiphone20

Posts: 1654; Member since: Jul 10, 2013

See post 31, Android made open source. dude, that's like a no-brainer

50. EclipseGSX

Posts: 1778; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

If it's because of open source, why hasn't linux surpassed Windows or Mac OS yet? Fact iPhone was first, now it's in last.

54. tedkord

Posts: 17520; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

You can't be 5 years ahead of everyone and be behind them in 3 years.

51. JerryTime

Posts: 468; Member since: Nov 09, 2013

LoL, love it tedkord.

55. _PHug_

Posts: 482; Member since: Oct 11, 2011

Dude, you are trying way too hard and you are so pathetically wrong. You are the reason Apple users are stereotyped.

74. SirCheese

Posts: 15; Member since: Jul 28, 2012

He sounds like an Apple troll, and you are all biting and feeding it.

59. E.S.1

Posts: 308; Member since: Sep 14, 2013

Maybe.. but it is about 3 years behind today.

14. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

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

12. cripton805

Posts: 1485; Member since: Mar 18, 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.

20. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 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.

11. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 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.

13. tedkord

Posts: 17520; Member since: Jun 17, 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...

52. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

BOOM!!! There it is. +1 sir

10. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 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.

17. AntiFanBoyz unregistered

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

58. ardent1

Posts: 2000; Member since: Apr 16, 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.

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