Back in the early 2000s, the idea behind Android seemed crazy.
Carriers liked to control every aspect of phone launches, from the way phones were marketed to what they were called.
So the proposal of an open software platform that would run across multiple phones regardless of what carrier sold the device seemed impossible back then.
But Andy Rubin, the creator behind Android that left Google in late 2014, found one early supporter: Larry Page.
Page, co-founder and CEO of Google, was the company’s president of products when he heard about Rubin’s idea around 2004. Google told Rubin the company had heard about Android and wanted to “help,” a person that worked with Andy Rubin told Business Insider for our recent story about the history of Android.
Rubin and one of his Android co-founders Nick Sears drove down to Google’s Mountain View campus during the first week of January. The meeting included Page, Sergey Brin, and Georges Harik, a Google Ventures advisor and one of the company’s first 10 employees.
Here’s how the meeting went down, based on what we’ve heard:
Page was dressed casually in jeans and a T-shirt. Brin wore no shoes but had a plastic Disney watch on his wrist. He sat near two candy jars and popped handfuls into his mouth.
Page wasted no time and praised Rubin’s previous work. He called the T-Mobile Sidekick (which Rubin’s previous startup Danger had created) one of the best phones he had ever seen.
Brin jumped in with a few jokes. He also talked with Rubin in meticulous detail about the technology that powered the Sidekick.
The meeting wasn’t all about praising Rubin. Brin wanted to test him too. He kept pressing Rubin about what he could have done differently to make the Sidekick even better, and why he chose to create the phone the way he did.
It wasn’t an aggressive conversation but a collaborative exercise in problem solving.
When Rubin and Sears walked out of that meeting, one thing was clear: Google was interested in Android. But it wasn’t clear why.
Was Google their friend or foe? Was it developing its own mobile software and learning from the competition?