Former Apple board member and current Google Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, has denied that Android is a "stolen product", charges levied by the late Steve Jobs in his biography(http://www.imore.com/tag/steve-jobs-biography/).
"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," Schmidt said.
Apple announced the original iPhone in January 2007, saying it had taken 2.5 years of work. That places iPhone development (or iPad/iPhone development as it started off as Safari Pad) somewhere around July 2004. Schmidt joined Apple's board in late August, 2006.
Android was founded in 2003 by Andy Rubin, formerly of Danger (who made Sidekick, which was subsequently bought by Microsoft, and abandoned as the Kin) Google purchased Android in 2005 and showed it off for the first time in November, 2007.
The huge however in all this -- and something everyone but Eric Schmidt and Google seems to remember, and point out whenever they fail to remember it -- Android was originally designed to look like and compete with BlackBerry and Windows Mobile Standard. It was a front-facing QWERTY device with none of the full screen, multitouch, app-centric trappings... until iPhone came around.
Just like Apple and iPhone built on what came before with Palm and Treo, Google and Android built on what Apple brought to market. Google was smart enough to buy Android in 2005 and skate to where that mobile puck was absolutely going to be by 2010.
Whether Schmidt -- who reportedly recused himself from Apple board discussions about the iPhone and was deliberately kept in the dark about the iPad -- engaged in questionable ethics to get that positioning, that fast, and whether or not Google and their ODM partners violated any Apple intellectual property to implement it is a question for the courts and the bank accounts to decide.
Jobs was obvious livid at his perceived betrayal by Google, no doubt informed by his relationship with Microsoft over GUI interfaces on computers in the 1990s, and his desire to go "thermonuclear" highlights those feelings. While Schmidt and Google aren't (yet) involved in direct litigation with Apple, their ODM partners are, so he's presenting the facts as best suits their, and perhaps one days his, case. Apple is doing likewise.
But it remains that, absent iPhone, all our Droid and Galaxy and Nexus loving friends would be typing -- not tapping -- their their little thumbs off on tiny tictac keyboards to this day. Much like, without Google, all us iOS users would be searching Alta Vista and complaining about it over Yahoo! mail...
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