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

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129 Comments

124. TROLL.ISAHA

Posts: 535; Member since: Mar 28, 2012

He was born acquistive.... Even billions was not enough for him!

123. kindkin

Posts: 9; Member since: Dec 01, 2011

I thought it was steve that stole the graphical interface from xerox?

126. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

steve stole it from xerox but wasnt smart enough to make it work right, bill "innovated" that and made windows from it... steve then "innovated" the windows ideas into his apple computers, if i remember it correctly. :)

122. Allen3697

Posts: 86; Member since: Mar 26, 2012

Jobs sounds like a big whiny baby. Can't control everything, I thought he would have been smart enough to realize that.

121. Forsaken77

Posts: 553; Member since: Jun 09, 2011

Also consider the fact that the writer spoke with Jobs when he was CEO and the other guy spoke with him after he was really sick, retired, and home with his family. At that point in his life he probably reevaluated his priorities and what's important in life. So he may have really hated Android and bought voodoo dolls for all the executives. But he probably also came down from that and felt it wasn't worth it later on in life.

117. wgaurav

Posts: 22; Member since: Dec 17, 2010

'No, Steve, I think its more like we both have a rich neighbor named Xerox, and you broke in to steal the TV set, and you found out I'd been there first, and you said. "Hey that's no fair! I wanted to steal the TV set!' - B Gates.......Jobs was such a cry baby...

100. pongkie

Posts: 663; Member since: Aug 20, 2011

This probably doesn't matter during Jobs last days. He is dying, all he probably think about is his family he already gave up work when he resigned and placed all trust to Cook. That biographer and page is just using Jobs to gain more money.

114. saket.shrivastava

Posts: 55; Member since: Apr 02, 2012

page has nothing to cash on from his statements................

118. pongkie

Posts: 663; Member since: Aug 20, 2011

oh please he's a businessman he knows what he's doing

95. Jillsandwich

Posts: 63; Member since: Oct 24, 2011

This just in! Steve Jobs is dead. He LOST. Page is alive. Android is alive. Bill Gates is alive. Suck it, Steve. And yes, I know it's insensitive to speak ill of the dead, but let's face it. He wasn't exactly a good human being, either.

98. TROLL.ISAHA

Posts: 535; Member since: Mar 28, 2012

RIGHT!

109. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

As much as I LOVE Android...had to thumb that down... :( The man still had a family. At the end of the day he was still a human bieng regardless, even if you didnt like him or his products or business practices. Lets not stoop to those iPhone folks level that made those ignorant remarks about Instragram. Be the bigger person...makes the others look even worse.

91. gwuhua1984

Posts: 1237; Member since: Mar 06, 2012

Steve Jobs is good, I'll give him that. However, I would of liked him a lot more if he would just focus on beating his opponents with true innovations insteading of slapping thief and liar tags on his competition. I was pretty in love with the iPhone 4 when I first heard of it, then Android had something better so ended up not looking at the iPhone 4. Since then, I haven't seen anything done with the iPhone that will trump iPhone over Android, iPhone or iPad actually. What do you do when or you think someone stole your idea... stay quiet beat the thieves and your own idea with a even better, HUGE idea. It's too bad I didn't see that happen with Steve Jobs.

83. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

Steve Jobs only thinks that Android copies from Apple APP store and touch screen phone idea.

82. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

What I like to think is...before his death, SJ was still pissed about Android and wanted to see it destroyed. BUT, he changed his way of thinking once he realized just how close to death he was. Maybe he thought about his combative attitude about EVERYTHING, how that attitude allowed his illness to progress beyond treatment, and at that moment he decided it just wasn't worth it. And although he may have wanted the destruction of Android during the writing of his book, he changed his mind while on his deathbed, and he just let the whole thing go.

62. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Ironic that Apple/Jobs can accuse anyone of stealing....

55. strikercho

Posts: 156; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

But of course the biography author is right. There is no way the late Jobs could have settled until the stolen Handroid was destroyed or at least make them pay. And of course Mr. Larry lies again and tries to distort history. That's the usual Giggle, pardon google way.

59. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

You must be Asian?

64. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Not a rascist remark, but a comment on your writing style...

53. Maxaravind

Posts: 9; Member since: Apr 06, 2012

funny.... u know every body even in the 21st century will worship Cesar, throw flowers in his way all the while Brutus is the one who is blamed. open ur eyes people all steve wanted to do was grow his company, he didn't care about anything else, he cared about his customers only to get profit from his activities,otherwise why would he even think of using his 90 billion dollars in bank to put an end to a company that is putting in some effort to help humanity. We could have praised him if he was willing to use his money to help the world,like give some food to children in African countries who die of hunger every year other than spending it on meaningless disputes. He was one of the best business men who lived on earth only considering his abilities to trick people. If he was not tricking people and was pricing his products right how did apple make its 100 billion profit....??? And i don't think that Google is wrong(at least for now) if it can provide similar technology that apple offers for half the price.. Moreover if the guys who invented the wheel or the fire said that nobody other than them has the right to make it then i don't think we would be where we are today......

52. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

....life moves on....

49. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

It couldn't possibly be that Isaacson was taking liberties like Daisey did in order to promote his product, now could it? Also, bankrupting Apple just to thwart a competitor does not sound like good business ethics as far responsibility to the stockholders go. Good ol' Captain Ahab, err... I mean Steve.

44. atheisticemetic

Posts: 377; Member since: Dec 18, 2011

You treat others as you would want to be treated. Considering Steve Jobs was a jerk, i dont honestly care what he thinks about Android and would receive equal treatment from me I didnt think much of him as a person and I hate his product. Secondly, Steve Jobs no longer lives and he clearly "hated" Android for show. A non issue in my book

58. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

You hate his product but you use a copycat product android. Lol

61. taz89

Posts: 2014; Member since: May 03, 2011

here we go again with the whole ''copycat'' thing lol i think its time you give that a rest mate....hardly anything today is ever original

73. atheisticemetic

Posts: 377; Member since: Dec 18, 2011

you use apple operating system on ur laptop? how is that not a copycat? even bill gates stole from Dr Dos. however you have no fact to say how android copied the iphone....i was under the impression that considering android has MORE features they have no reason to steal anymore i'd like for you to actually back up what you say with facts a defense attorney has to have a case otherwise they sign a plea bargain ;)

75. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

The facts are blatantly obvious to anyone but a fandroid like you. It doesn't matter what I tell you because you'll refuse to accept it.

81. tedkord

Posts: 17544; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

And it doesn't matter what anyone tells you to the contrary, you will always see things through your iFan glasses. You're just a different side of the same coin.

101. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

And you think innovation will be fueled by allowing everyone to copy each other.

108. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Its been going on since before Apple was even thought of. Why does it all of a sudden have to stop with Apple? Cell phones have been out before Apple, computers have been out before Apple. If Apple is allowed to innovate from existing ideas, why cant anyone innovate from theirs?

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

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