Steve Jobs did not like Android, or the guy that ran it, Andy Rubin, according to a new book on the Google-Apple smartphone wars.
Jobs told friends that he thought Rubin was a “big, arrogant f**k,” according to Fred Vogelstein’s, Dogfight: How Apple And Google Went To War And Started a Revolution.
When Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, Google was already working on Android, its own smartphone operating system. Google bought Android, which was Rubin’s startup, for ~$50 million in 2005.
According to Dogfight, when Apple announced the iPhone, Rubin realised he would have to throw out what he was thinking of launching.
He was in a cab in Las Vegas, watching a webcast of the presentation. He made the driver pull over so he could see the whole thing. He said, “Holy crap, I guess we’re not going to launch that phone.”
Ethan Beard, an early Android business development executive told Vogelstein, “We knew that Apple was going to announce a phone. Everyone knew that. We just didn’t think it would be that good.”
Google had phone software that was ready to launch at the end of the year, but it looked awful relative to the iPhone, so it was all scrapped and delayed. “What we had looked so … nineties,” said an Android engineer.
The Android team got to work and created the software that eventually went into the HTC G1, Google’s first Android-based phone. The software was not as good as the iPhone, but it similar enough to Apple’s software that Jobs was furious with Google.
“Everything is a f**king rip off of what we’re doing,” Jobs said of Android, according to Vogelstein’s reporting.
Jobs had trusted Google’s cofounders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt was on Apple’s board. All three has been telling Jobs about Android, but they kept telling him it would be different from the iPhone. And for some reason he believed them until he actually saw the phone and its software.
Once Jobs saw Android’s software, and how similar it was to the iPhone, he insisted Google make a lot of changes.
There was a meeting with Jobs, Scott Forstall, who designed the iPhone’s software, and Google’s Larry Page, Alan Eustace, and Rubin. Vogelstein cautions that it was hard to know exactly what happened in the meeting, but says that it was confrontational and nasty.
“It got incredibly personal,” says one Apple executive who was briefed by Jobs on the meeting. “Jobs said that Rubin was steamed, telling him his position was anti-innovation. And this is where Steve was demeaning to Andy, saying Andy was trying to be like him, look like him, have the same haircut, the same glasses, the same style.”
Apple got what it wanted from the meeting. Google didn’t do multitouch features like pinch to zoom. It forced Google to change how it was going to make the phone unlock. Not only did Jobs tell Google what it couldn’t use, but according to Vogelstein Jobs told Google how to take things out of Android. It was a complete capitulation from Google.
Rubin was furious that his bosses caved to Jobs. He thought there was plenty of evidence that Apple didn’t invent the things it said it invented. Rubin considered quitting Google, but didn’t. (Ultimately, Google did add in those features and now it’s dealing with lawsuits.)
After the meeting with Jobs, he had a sign on his office white board that said, “STEVE JOBS STOLE MY LUNCH MONEY.”
In the long run, Rubin and Android got the best of Apple. Android has taken over the world.
(Though the iPhone is wildly profitable. So, for now, this seems to be a rare instance where both companies are doing well.)