How Google had to 'start over' on Android the day the iPhone was announced

Back when the very first iPhone was announced in 2007, it took many of us by surprise, including Google. What Steve Jobs held in his hand on stage that day was unlike any smartphone we'd seen to that date, and it set the precedent for what we see today not only from Apple. In yet another excerpt for Fred Vogelstein's Dogfight, the The Atlantic, says what happened next:

By January 2007, they’d all worked sixty-to-eighty-hour weeks for fifteen months—some for more than two years—writing and testing code, negotiating soft­ware licenses, and flying all over the world to find the right parts, suppliers, and manufacturers. They had been working with proto­types for six months and had planned a launch by the end of the year . . . until Jobs took the stage to unveil the iPhone.

Chris De-Salvo was an engineer working on Google's early Android project:

Chris DeSalvo’s reaction to the iPhone was immediate and visceral. “As a consumer I was blown away. I wanted one immediately. But as a Google engineer, I thought ‘We’re going to have to start over.’”

And perhaps best of all, Andy Rubin, then director of the Android team at Google:

“Holy crap,” he said to one of his colleagues in the car. “I guess we’re not going to ship that phone.”

The first iPhone was a revolutionary product, that much is certain. But it's intriguing to see such candid disclosure about how it affected another company from one of its very own. Ultimately, the consumers won out because in the iPhone and Android, we're blessed with two amazing mobile operating systems.

The question that continues to float around in my head is; what would the smartphone world look like had the iPhone not been what it was? Check out the rest of the story via the link below, or if the topic interests you, pick up Dogfight from Amazon or iBooks.

Source: The Atlantic via The Loop

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Richard Devine

Senior Editor at iMore, part time racing driver, full time British guy

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Reader comments

How Google had to 'start over' on Android the day the iPhone was announced


Why suddenly reference this book now? It came out some time ago.

For those interested, the book is a decent read but you'll already know 99% of what's in it.

The article is a reference to a piece just published on The Atlantic. The quotes are also mentioned in The Atlantic article which is pretty good.

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I'm sure so many were caught off guard with the iPhone, Just like the 64 bit that was added to the iPhones 5S. Apple is planning for something in the future that is in line with there strategy. We don't understand the need for it now, but it will make sense in time. All smartphones are a derivative of the iPhone. Great article!

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Umm...Richard, did you do ANY research for this post? If you did, you'd realize that they had the HTC Dream in the works at the same time as a Blackberry style phone. When the iPhone came out, they immediately saw what no other phone company saw and dropped their BB style prototype and pursued the Dream phone as the one they were going to launch because they agreed with Apple that full gesture was the way to go.

It's a link to an excerpt written by the author of the book. If you think those sources are more accurate, then you should take it up with him