It looks like Steve Jobs’ assertion that Android is “stolen property,” and heavily “borrowed” from the iPhone just gained a lot more backing. Newly provided documents reveal that Android was originally designed without any sort of touchscreen in mind, and the original “Google phone” concept resembled a Blackberry more than an iPhone.
The above concept from 2006 (via The Verge) is Google’s original idea of what they wanted their smartphone platform to look like. The image was among several other images and documents provided in Google’s court battle with Oracle over Android’s alleged illegal use (theft) of Java.
That’s not all there is to this story, however. Compare the above photo to the first publicly released “Google phone,” the T-Mobile G1, which arrived at carriers in October of 2008 – significantly after the original iPhone was released in June of 2007 (photo below via CultofMac).
As you can clearly see, the G1 bears almost no resemblance to Google’s original concept, suggesting that Google significantly modified both their Android mobile platform and their ideas about smartphone design after the iPhone was released. The Verge explains:
Exact specs for those first concepts aren’t detailed, but Google does spell out what it had in mind for the least common denominator across Android devices. An ARMv9 processor of at least 200MHz, GSM (3G preferred), 64MB of RAM and ROM, miniSD (yes, mini, not micro) external storage, a 2-megapixel camera with a dedicated shutter button, USB support, Bluetooth 1.2, and a QVGA display with at least 16-bit color support — a far cry from today’s 720p screens. At that time, touchscreen support wasn’t a requirement — in fact, the baseline specs required two soft menu keys, indicating that touchscreens weren’t really in the plan at all”
Not to mention that the iPhone was the first ever multi-touch smartphone to hit the market, popularizing the concept of touchscreen smartphones and shaping the future of mobile phone design.
So, did Android rip off the iPhones design? Did Google “borrow” the basis of Android as we know it today from Apple? And did Google just prove all of this in a court of law? Decide for yourself. As for me, I think the truth is pretty clear…