"Android Started Before iPhone": How True is That?


How much Apple's founder Steve Jobs hated Android is evident from his last conversations with his biographer, Walter Isaacson. Steve Jobs claimed that Android was a rip-off of Apple's iOS and that he will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong, to destroy Android. This created an uproar. In an interview with Reuters, Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, said that all these allegations are baseless and that Android project started well before the iPhone effort. Let's find out how true a statement that is.

Android Started Before iPhone

Android vs iPhone
According to Reuters, this is what Schmidt said, "I've decided not to comment on what's been written on a book after his death. Steve is a fantastic human being and someone who I miss very dearly. As a general comment, I think most people would agree that Google is a great innovator and I would also point out that the Android effort started before the iPhone effort." He does have a point. Android project kick started in early 2003 and was later acquired by Google in 2005. Android Inc.'s co-founder, Andy Rubin, is now a Google employee and leads the development of Android operating system at Google.

Even though Eric Schmidt 'Android started before iPhone' statement is technically true, there is no denying that the Android OS, prior to the release of iPhone's iOS, looked nothing like it. Initial versions of Android OS is clearly inspired by many design choices of Apple's iOS. But if you think they are not just "inspirations" and clear out rip offs of iOS, consider this:
  • Many aspects of last two major iOS releases, iOS 4 and iOS 5 ie., are clearly inspired from Android's design choices. Some examples below:
  • iOS's new notification system: Undoubtedly inspired from Android's age old notification system(sliding notifications from the top).
  • iOS 5.0's lock screen shortcut to Camera application: Something that was there is HTC Sense  3.0 Android UI for a long time now.
  • Over the air updates: Android OS had this feature from day one.
  • iOS's new messaging application called iMessage is clearly inspired from BlackBerry Messenger application.
These are just some of the examples. So, was Android OS heavily influenced by Apple's iOS? No doubt about it. But is it a rip off? In parts, sure. But so is the last two versions of Apple's iOS, iOS 4 and iOS 5 respectively. And I don't see anything wrong with that. All companies copy successful designs and Apple is not immune to it. Period.

IMHO, Apple should drop its sue-everyone/victim mindset and instead should go out and compete head to head with Google and Android. Well, that's just my opinion. Android is gobbling up market share from Apple's iPhone real fast and they need to get their acts together before its too late. We will keep you updated. Stay tuned.
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