“We had been working on Android a very long time, with the notion of producing phones that are Internet enabled and have good browsers and all that because that did not exist in the marketplace. I think that characterization of us entering after [the iPhone was introduced] is not really reasonable.”
To understand his point, here’s a little timeline I’ve cobbled together of the Google Android/Apple iPhone relationship:
2002, Spring: “The Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page began sporting flashy smartphones [Danger Sidekicks] on their belts that could gain access to the Internet and their popular search engine wherever they roamed.”
2005, August 17th: Google buys Android. “Rubin & Co. have sparingly described the outfit as making software for mobile phones…One source familiar with the company says Android had at one point been working on a software operating system for cell phones.”
2006, August 28th: A full year after Google buys Android, Eric Schmidt, Googles CEO, is elected to Apple’s Board of Directors.
2007, January: Apple announces the iPhone with Eric Schmidt on hand to demonstrate how Google’s software is utilized (the sound timing is off):
2007, July: Apple’s iPhone goes on sale.
2007, November 4th: John Markoff pens I, Robot, the man behind the Google Phone for the NYTimes, detailing Rubin’s plans pretty much exactly as they’ve turned out. At that point, Apple had sold 2 million iPhones in almost 5 months.
2007, November 7th: The Open Handset Alliance is announced. “34 mobile and technology leaders come together to form the Open Handset Alliance“. They announce Android, the world’s first “truly open and complete mobile platform”. First phones scheduled to ship in second half of 2008.
2008, September 23rd: The G1 is released on T-Mobile. Though it is later called “version .8 of the Android software”, the G1 shows some signs of being a viable platform.
2009, August 3: A year after the original Android phone hits the market, it is announced that Eric Schmidt will step down from Apple’s Board of Directors. Soon afterwards, Art Levinson left Google’s board so he could stay on Apple’s.
2009, November: Google wins a bidding war for Admob, the leading mobile Advertising company for $750 million. It is Google’s third biggest purchase behind DoubleClick and Youtube. Jobs is said to be livid that Google outbid Apple.
2010, January: Steve Jobs, at an Apple all-hands meeting, says something to the tune of: “We did not enter the search business. They [Google] entered the phone business. Make no mistake they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them!” He added, “This Don’t be Evil mantra? It’s [BS]”.
With that history, it is hard to back Jobs’ contention that Android followed iPhone. It should be noted that Android prototype designs took on a more “iPhone-like appearance” after the iPhone was introduced.
According to a former Apple employee, the day that the Apple-Google relationship started to crumble was the introduction of the T-Mobile G1. According to him, Steve Jobs and Apple Mobile Software VP Scott Forstall had only seen Android prototypes that looked like Blackberries. The new form factor was “way too similar to the iPhone for Jobs’ tastes”.
This year, the once strong relationship has only spiraled downward with Apple entering the Mobile advertising space with iAds.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt “noted that Google and Apple still have important partnerships in various businesses, and stressed that the market was big enough for both Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone to be successful.”
However, Schmidt also said that Google’s ChromeOS would not only be entering the market later this year in NetBook form factor, it would also be released as a tablet, competing directly against Apple’s popular iPad.
So it seems the competition between the former allies will only get fiercer.
Update: Steve Jobs mentions at 38 minutes in here, that Apple had a built a tablet in the early 2000’s, but switched gears years later to use that technology to build the iPhone which took “several years”.