An Inside Look at Google's Reaction to the Original iPhone Introduction

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Last month, longtime technology journalist Fred Vogelstein released his new book Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution, offering an inside look at the development of both the iPhone and Android ecosystems. An excerpt from the book sharing a behind-the-scenes look at the original iPhone introduction had been published in October, and a newly released excerpt from The Atlantic is now gaining attention for its description of Google's reaction to the iPhone unveiling in January 2007.

Among the most quotable bits comes from former Google engineer Chris DeSalvo, who related his reaction to seeing the iPhone shown for the first time. At the time, Google had been working on its "Sooner" reference device for Android, and it was clear that the iPhone represented a significant departure from that concept.
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.'" [...]

"What we had suddenly looked just so . . . nineties," DeSalvo said. "It's just one of those things that are obvious when you see it."
Google Sooner (Source: Steven Troughton-Smith)
Android chief Andy Rubin reportedly had a similar reaction:
On the day Jobs announced the iPhone, the director of the Android team, Andy Rubin, was six hundred miles away in Las Vegas, on his way to a meeting with one of the myriad handset makers and carriers that descend on the city for the Consumer Electronics Show. He reacted exactly as DeSalvo predicted. Rubin was so astonished by what Jobs was unveiling that, on his way to a meeting, he had his driver pull over so that he could finish watching the webcast.

"Holy crap," he said to one of his colleagues in the car. "I guess we're not going to ship that phone."
Not all of those close to the Android development process remember the history in that same way, as OS News points back to a 2012 comment from longtime Android engineer Dianne Hackborn claiming that the "Sooner" concept had already been dropped prior to the iPhone introduction. According to Hackborn, Sooner did, however, continue to be used for software development purposes for its stability relative to the "Dream" touchscreen concept that was also under development.
From a software perspective, Sooner and Dream were basically the same -- different form-factors, one without a touch screen -- but they were not so different as this article indicates and the switch between them was not such a huge upheaval. [...]

I don't recall the exact dates, but I believe the decision to drop Sooner was well before the iPhone announcement... though we continued to use it for quite a while internally for development, since it was the only semi-stable hardware platform we had. If nothing else, it helped remove significant risk from the schedule since software development could be done on a relatively stable device while the systems team brought up the new hardware in parallel.
The differences in recollections may hinge to some degree on whether the subjects related more to the hardware or software aspects of the iPhone and Android. As Vogelstein notes, Android itself remained an ambitious attempt to bring multi-tasking access to Google's services and other apps to any device, as opposed to Apple's locked-down iPhone hardware-software combination. So while those comparing the iPhone's hardware to Google's Sooner work immediately saw that Apple was changing the game, those focused more on the platform still saw that Android had the flexibility to adapt to the future of hardware.

Article Link: An Inside Look at Google's Reaction to the Original iPhone Introduction
 

Digital Skunk

macrumors 604
Dec 23, 2006
7,864
432
In my imagination
Yes, even now as an Android user, I am still wowed by what Apple introduced. It was what even most ultra-geeks wanted in a device. One to rule them all.

At the time it connected and made simple so much technology that it was indeed magical.

It was like Palm OS done Apple style with none of the archaic UI elements that made you want to cry.

Nowadays however . . . . . . . . . . .
 

Traverse

macrumors 604
Mar 11, 2013
6,800
3,025
Here
Android is a fine OS, but no one can deny that the original iPhone was truly an innovative device and I mean that in the traditional sense of "innovative".

Today, companies through the word "innovative" around constantly to describe incremental improvements. In truth, innovative should me a major change, something that creates an entire new class or fundamentally changes the way we accomplish things. The original iPhone started that, it was innovative.
 

Tubamajuba

macrumors 68020
Jun 8, 2011
2,073
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Yes, even now as an Android user, I am still wowed by what Apple introduced. It was what even most ultra-geeks wanted in a device. One to rule them all.

At the time it connected and made simple so much technology that it was indeed magical.

Nowadays however . . . . . . . . . . .
Nowadays, it is still an excellent phone.
 

CBJammin103

macrumors regular
Jun 6, 2007
233
56
Louisiana, United States
It's interesting that the iPhone was so ground breaking and cutting edge (in terms of UI and UX) that it was able to sell unsubsidized for many hundreds of $USD. That had never happened on a mass scale and that would certainly not happen today... it may prove to be the one time in mobile history that such a model could succeed.

It's already interesting just how utterly secret they managed to keep all of the details - something else that seems impossible today.
 

zbarvian

macrumors 68010
Jul 23, 2011
2,004
2
I've personally never witnessed a technological revolution as massive and momentous as the I first iPhone. Many years would have passed before anyone else came close to the design, engineering, and experience of the hardware and software. I remember playing with it for the first time, and knowing I had never been so delighted and amazed by a piece of technology.

Nobody, not even the most firm Android proponents can deny that the iPhone changed the way we see computers, at least mobile ones. Its influence can be found in every crevice of the marketplace.
 

Ventilatedbrain

macrumors regular
Nov 22, 2012
201
68
Yes, even now as an Android user, I am still wowed by what Apple introduced. It was what even most ultra-geeks wanted in a device. One to rule them all.

At the time it connected and made simple so much technology that it was indeed magical.

It was like Palm OS done Apple style with none of the archaic UI elements that made you want to cry.

Nowadays however . . . . . . . . . . .
Nowadays it's even better .. Don't underestimate the power of revolution , smartphones today have practically changed the world .. The iPhone or any phone today has a lot more computing power than the computers used to land on the moon on the first trip .. Which says a lot about intelligence of people these days ;)
 

krravi

macrumors 65816
Nov 30, 2010
1,173
0
As a long time iPhone user and having dabbled in a couple of Androids recently.. (just got an Gold iPhone 5S, btw).. I am going to buy this book.

Would be interesting to see what transpired to bring these wonderful devices to the consumers hands....
 

Rogifan

macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2011
21,030
24,672
That doesn't say much for iOS 6 and 7.



Agreed!

There really should be more Mac Pro news. I want to see benchmarks, and real world use videos. Running 16 simultaneous streams of 4k in Final Cut is cute, but how will this mini-tower play with the hose of periphs Apple expects you to plug into it?

Sorry, that was off topic.
Um since people just got these machines wouldn't you rather wait for more thorough tests? Has anyone had enough time to properly put it through its paces?
 

bushido

Suspended
Mar 26, 2008
8,070
2,754
Germany
well im glad im open minded enough to except both on the market :) imagine a world with only apple being allowed to make touch screen smartphones. we still wouldnt have copy & paste and still rock that tiny tamagochi screen ;) and lots of lame keyboard devices
 

John.B

macrumors 601
Jan 15, 2008
4,123
636
Holocene Epoch
It's interesting that the iPhone was so ground breaking and cutting edge (in terms of UI and UX) that it was able to sell unsubsidized for many hundreds of $USD. That had never happened on a mass scale and that would certainly not happen today... it may prove to be the one time in mobile history that such a model could succeed.
What are you on about? Lots of people are purchasing the unsubsidized 5S. In fact, it's the only way to buy a smartphone on T-Mobile today, and AT&T's CEO made some comments recently that they may have to follow suit.
 

Digital Skunk

macrumors 604
Dec 23, 2006
7,864
432
In my imagination
Um since people just got these machines wouldn't you rather wait for more thorough tests? Has anyone had enough time to properly put it through its paces?
Yes, the unboxing videos happened like, yesterday.

It doesn't take more than 20 hours to get a Geekbench score.

I'll be removing my comment though, because I don't want the bait thread to go off topic.
 

grrrz

macrumors member
Jan 31, 2012
91
2
wait..
so if apple never released the iphone, then android phones would have been good old blackberry like phone, with a physical keyboard, a "call" button, and not one of those crappy touchscreen phone we've got everywhere?
well *****
 

yossi

macrumors regular
Nov 26, 2004
197
603
I've personally never witnessed a technological revolution as massive and momentous as the I first iPhone. Many years would have passed before anyone else came close to the design, engineering, and experience of the hardware and software. I remember playing with it for the first time, and knowing I had never been so delighted and amazed by a piece of technology.

Nobody, not even the most firm Android proponents can deny that the iPhone changed the way we see computers, at least mobile ones. Its influence can be found in every crevice of the marketplace.
And they will do something similar with the TV, despite the naysayers. I don't know how and I don't know when, but apple will revolutionize the TV or TV watching experience and it will be just as out of left field as the original iPhone.
 

MacTCE

macrumors 6502
Dec 20, 2013
474
15
Upstate NY
There's no denying it that Apple changed smartphones forever. It was also a good thing that Google was smart enough to realize it unlike some other companies. (*cough* BlackBerry *cough*)
 

iZac

macrumors 68020
Apr 28, 2003
2,022
1,089
Shanghai
What are you on about? Lots of people are purchasing the unsubsidized 5S. In fact, it's the only way to buy a smartphone on T-Mobile today, and AT&T's CEO made some comments recently that they may have to follow suit.
Apple were instrumental in getting the general public to accept that mobile phone business model though. They wanted control over the price points and presumably didn't want to fight AT&T over subsidies and profit sharing agreements. So much so that T Mobile now base their entire business model on transparently informing the customer of the true price of the handset.
 

Digital Skunk

macrumors 604
Dec 23, 2006
7,864
432
In my imagination
And they will do something similar with the TV, despite the naysayers. I don't know how and I don't know when, but apple will revolutionize the TV or TV watching experience and it will be just as out of left field as the original iPhone.
They certainly do have the content streams. Personally, I hope Apple sticks with making computers and supporting peripherals. Outside of making a smart TV that costs twice as much as the competing smart TV yet does half as much but still has that something that some folks want, I don't see Apple gaining much ground in a market that doesn't have much room to grow.

Now, if they decided to branch out into some new untapped TV-like market that no one expected, then they'd be doing something like the OG Apple of yore.
 
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