During Apple’s highly publicized suit against Samsung, bloggers — including us — came down sort of hard on Apple. Suing over such ubiquitous features as the rectangle and touch screen seemed a little bit overreaching. But if you look at a timeline of Apple and Android’s history, Apple has a lot to be upset about and they may not be the villains they’ve been portrayed to be.
2001: The Bromance Begins
Larry Page and Sergey Brin (pictured above), both 20-something and co-founders of then 3-year-old Google approach Steve Jobs and ask him to help run their company. Jobs says that he’s already running a company, but the then 50-something CEO founder of Apple took a liking to the pair (maybe he was reminded of he and Wozniak’s early days) and agreed to mentor them.
And the relationship was just as endearing as it sounds. Page, Brin and Jobs were close…maybe too close (cue crime drama music). Jobs shared everything with them, including his life coach Bill Campbell. They were so close that in In the Plex, journalist Steven Levy commented:
“There was so much overlap that it was almost as if Apple and Google were a single company.”
2004: Trouble in Paradise
During the beginning of 2004, Apple starts to develop the iPhone in secret. No one lets BFFs Page and Brin in on the secret. Then 2 years later, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt winds up on Apple’s board. Everyone (including the Federal Trade Commission) thought that was a little weird.
2007: Google Draws First Blood
We’re not going to come right out and say that Google copied Apple. But we are going to say that in January of 2007, Apple released the iPhone. Around the same time, Brin, Page and Horowitz got the word out that they too were getting into the phone business…at exactly the same time as apple.
But apparently, no one at Apple was suspicious. And Jobs even said that he wasn’t concerned because the new phone wasn’t an iPhone competitor. It was button-centric, had no touchscreen and looked more like a BlackBerry than an iPhone as you can see in the video below.
Fair enough, right? Only Google never released that phone. In October 2008 — roughly one year after the iPhone was released and in everyone’s hot little hands — Brin and Page pulled a move that is sure to go down in shady business history: they released a wildly different model. And this first Android looked a lot like the iPhone: it had a touch screen, a large display and few home keys. The only way it resembled the older Google-developed model was that it still had the QWERTY keyboard — now tucked away under the touch home screen.
2008: Things Get Predictably Awkward
To put a long story short, Jobs was pissed: The kind of pissed where you drag out the “i” in a sing-songy voice. He had taken Larry Page and Sergey Brin under his wing and the totally hosed him and stole his ideas. And then to add insult to industry, Google adopted the unofficial motto “Don’t be evil”.
2009: The Rift Begins
In May of 2009, Eric Schmidt left Apple’s board. In January 2010, Schmidt-led Google — who’d always said that Google was not a “primary competitor” to the iPhone — released the Google Nexus One, a handset that dropped the QWERTY much more flagrantly ripped off the iPhone.
2010: Jobs Takes the Feud Public
In a january 2010 Apple town meeting, Jobs said: “We did not enter the search business. They entered the phone business. Make no mistake they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them. This “don’t be evil” mantra is bullsh–.”
And in March of 2010, Apple — as many of us know — sued Google-Android partnered HTC for Copyright infringement. And they’ve been going after Android ever since.
2012: To Infinity and beyond
So when you hear Google say “can’t we all just get along”, remember how they started in the smartphone business. And although the blogosphere says that Samsung and Apple will let bygones be bygones, we don’t know if we believe that. We still remember what Jobs said in his biography:
“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this…If you offer me $5 billion, I won’t want it. I’ve got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that’s all I want.”
And we don’t think Apple will let that legacy die.