Jobs biographer and Larry Page clash; what did Jobs really think about Android?

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Jobs biographer and Larry Page clash; what did Jobs really think about Android?
In his recent interview with Bloomberg, Google CEO Larry Page indicated that he felt that Steve Jobs didn’t really mean all of his talk of “stolen product” and going “thermonuclear” against Android, implying that it was more for show, to rally the Apple troops. Jobs biographer, Walter Isaacson, doesn’t agree, and is hitting back. In a lecture at the Royal Institution Isaacson claimed that Page was attempting to "revise history", and said that during the many interviews Isaacson conducted with Jobs his anger was palpable.

Isaacson believes that much of the anger stemmed from similarities with what happened with during the PC wars. Jobs had always wanted to control both software and hardware to create specific user experiences, and when Microsoft “stole” the idea of a graphical interface (note: you can’t patent the broad concept of a “graphical interface”) that was bad but, according to Isaacson, what really upset Jobs was Microsoft’s “promiscuous licensing habits”, wherein they let any company that wished to build generic PC clones running their software.

That of course lead to Windows becoming dominant for more than a decade, and Jobs being forced out at Apple. On his return Jobs once again created a closed system with iOS and the iPod, iPhone, etc., only to see (according to Isaacson) Android copy iOS “verbatim”. Isaacson went on to explain that “…then they license it around promiscuously. And then Android starts surpassing Apple in market share, and this totally infuriated [Steve]. It wasn’t a matter of money. He said: ‘You can’t pay me off, I’m here to destroy you.’

We wouldn’t recommend Isaacson as a patent lawyer – he seems to believe that Apple should have been able to patent the idea of a responsive touchscreen device – but we have no reason to doubt his impression that Jobs was legitimately angry about the situation when they spoke. At the same time, we’re not quite ready to accept that Larry Page was simply making things up, since he also spoke personally with Jobs, shortly before the tech giant’s death.

Instead it’s probably worth paying attention to the details in both accounts. Larry Page is basing his statements on what Jobs told him as well, but that relationship didn’t really take off until after Page became CEO last year, after many of Isaacson’s interviews were conducted. Isaacson did much of his research when Eric Schmidt, Google’s previous CEO, was at the helm; that’s an important fact, as Steve Jobs expressed personal betrayal at Schmidt, who had sat on Apple’s board of directors when the iPhone and iPad were in development. As recorded by Isaacson, Jobs believed that this influenced the direction that Android took – and Jobs extended Schmidt's perceived betrayal to Android creator Andy Rubin, who was an Apple employee before creating Android.

Larry Page was apparently not held personally responsible, as he and Jobs reconciled in meetings that Jobs personally asked for; Jobs famously told Page he needed to decide what Google wanted to be "when it grew up". There were no reports of Jobs demanding that Page kill Android (which obviously wasn’t going to happen), or otherwise haranguing him with the vendetta he felt against Schmidt.

In the end it’s not difficult to believe that Jobs anger over Android was real, but that it may have been based more on personal relationships and perceived slights than a simple mirroring of PC history. In that sense Page is partially correct – Jobs hatred was not so much at Android per se; instead it was directed at the people he thought ripped him off. On the other hand, we have to agree with Isaacson that the original statements Jobs made about destroying Android were probably made in earnest, reflecting his genuine intention at that point in time. It wasn't for show, it's just that Jobs was hating the players rather than the game.

A careful reading of Isaacson’s book and Page's interview doesn’t suggest that either is making stuff up or trying to revise history. Instead, they paint a more complex picture of Steve Jobs. A Steve Jobs whose outrage wasn’t just for show, but in the end wasn’t so much a death wish for a competing platform as much as it was about the feeling of being betrayed by those you trust. We don’t take sides on whether or not Jobs was correct to feel betrayed, but in the end it suggests he was more concerned about individual relationships than unquestioned market dominance, which is an interesting insight into a legend whose myriad accomplishments often overshadow the man himself.

sources: Macworld, Bloomberg, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson



1. iamcc

Posts: 1319; Member since: Oct 07, 2011

Let's see... Jobs' biographer has an interest in selling a book that is perceived to be "confrontational" in regards to the Android vs Apple "battle". Larry Page has an interest in... s**t, what does he care what Jobs wanted to do to Android, the dude is dead.

72. HTCFreak

Posts: 156; Member since: Jul 17, 2010

It doesn't matter if the dude is dead or not. So we also can't make books about, like Micael Jackson or Withney Huston, because they're dead? Your argument is invalid, sir.

76. tedkord

Posts: 17408; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

His argument isn't invalid, though I don't necessarily agree with it. He's saying that when it comes to credibility, Isaacson has a profit motivation for up playing Jobs' anger and ire - it sells his book. While Page has no real gain from saying that he didn't believe Jobs' anger was entirely real.

105. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Exactly...that was the point of his post...and I agree 100% with one or both of I dont think Paige has no motives to defend Jobs. What will he gain from it? He generally liked the guy. While that author is trying to sell books. I think the fanboys need to pay attention to things like this...

119. dragonstkdgirl

Posts: 144; Member since: Apr 07, 2012

You mean Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston? It's hard to take a comment about an invalid argument seriously when spelling errors abound. :-/

2. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

There's two sides to every story which we see here.

7. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

The truth normally lies somewhere in the middle...

3. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Steve Jobs is an interesting person, nonetheless.


Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

Steve Jobs was a thief and a borrower of ideas and, only interesting to his herd of wannabies'.

23. ilia1986 unregistered

BS. Even though I hate Apple, And love Android - Steve Jobs was a very interesting person. He had a strong personality - and was probably the best salesman who walked on the surface of our planet.

70. Non_Sequitur

Posts: 1111; Member since: Mar 16, 2012

I'm there with you, bro.

77. tedkord

Posts: 17408; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Best salesman who wasn't a career politician.

48. sudhar131998

Posts: 63; Member since: Sep 06, 2011

okay then who invented ipad(as in a first device which could replace a laptop) and the ipod(as in a device that was the first to play stored music portably)?

66. wassup

Posts: 565; Member since: Jun 23, 2011

he didn't invent it T.T smh iGoats believing whatever they are told. MP3 players existed before the iPod, and tablets most definitely existed before the iPad... if you believe otherwise, you're an idiot...

127. CRICKETownz

Posts: 980; Member since: Oct 24, 2009

the comment may be a little off in terms of the invention portion, but let's be honest here...mp3 players became relevant after the iPod & tablets became relevant after iPad. have you ever used one of those old PC tablets? the experience was horrible...even current windows based tablets are pathetic. those ppl trying to undermine Apple by saying marketing is the reason for their success are at an almost criminal level of denial. Apple ushered in a new era of smart phone completely opposite of the dryness of Blackberry, Palm & Windows Mobile. Whatever your opinion is about Apple, face it...they revolutionized the mp3 player, smart phone & tablet. Android wouldn't exist w/out Apple - WebOs wouldn't exist w/out the domination of Android & Apple - Windows & Blackberry wouldn't be forced to step their game up w/out the previous mentioned. These opinion-based debates get ridiculous when you start to ignore the facts.

128. Pete_Muzz

Posts: 2; Member since: Apr 09, 2012

I totally agree with you that Apple took a product which already existed and totally REinvented the Tablet (which I think are a total waste of time and the words resources) and the phone...and I thank him for it because what you say is true. With out the motivation of Apple, Android wouldn't exist. Just like jobs took the tablet and touch screen phones of old and improved them...Google has taken the iPhone and improved on it again. From competition comes better consumer products. I think the iPhone users and Android users should be thanking each other, because the competition between these two 'companies' (I know Android isn't a company) has provided us with a technology race that is improving the way we communicate at an incredible rate. Without each other the industry would slow right down. But it wouldn't stop Apple releasing products with one added feature and calling it an entirely new product.

67. ojdidit84

Posts: 462; Member since: Jul 16, 2011

The iPad was NOT the first touchscreen tablet nor was the iPod the first portable digital music player nor the iPhone the first full touchscreen phone... They were the first to put an incredible amount of money towards advertising them effectively to the masses though...

74. beatsandmelody

Posts: 109; Member since: Nov 01, 2011

It's exactly like the Ford Model T automobile. Wasn't the first one around, just the first one to make it big and widespread.

78. tedkord

Posts: 17408; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Seriously? You do know that there were tablet PCs for a decade before the iPad, and there were mp3 players before the iPod? Or maybe you really don't.

129. Pete_Muzz

Posts: 2; Member since: Apr 09, 2012

It's just that only the Apple faithful sheep find the tablet to be an amazing product...waste of time if you ask me. Although these new tablets that can control all your bluetooth capable products in your house (regardless of don't have to live in an Apple orchard to be able to synch all your devices) make a bit more sense.

116. quakan

Posts: 1418; Member since: Mar 02, 2011

@sudhar131998 You should have looked up your facts haha. Just to let you know I had a sony mp3 player before the iPod came around and I had an Archos tablet before the iPad came around. That was an ignorant comment on your behalf.

102. qxavierus

Posts: 51; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

I totally agree. Everything Apple use in their products is invented and designed by some other company. Yet, they claim it's their accomplishment. Like the retina display - Apple says "...we had to design it in a completely new way..", but the truth is that the display is designed by their suppliers, not Apple...


Posts: 535; Member since: Mar 28, 2012

Steve jobs last dieng will and wish was to eliminate, destroy Android, but hahaha the deviant was extinct befor Android! Iniquitos is gone.....

4. biophone

Posts: 1994; Member since: Jun 15, 2011

Can we just let the man rest in peace. He was only human after all.

5. ZEUS.the.thunder.god unregistered

try to tell this to apple so they can stop suing and start innovating. anyway who cares what jobs thought of android.

6. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Agreed. The iphone has become stale...time to take the worm out of the Apple.

8. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

Still managed to work in your Apple hate. This isn't about innovation, which Apple does more of than any company.

9. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Taco stop yer crying and just admit ....what innovation? Siri? lol, maybe purchased innovation. It is still a good phone and the wife likes her tiny iphone 4S from Verizon. Simmer down, boy.

18. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

How many tablets did Android have before the iPad?

24. ilia1986 unregistered

How many tablets did Apple have before Windows XP, tablet edition?

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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