For a few years now, I’ve been reading articles claiming that Google just copied the iPhone when they created Android. Lately, I’ve been hearing that the opposite is true. Well, which is it? Certainly, each company is guilty of “borrowing” individual features from the other. If you want to know who had the idea first, we’ll have to take a look at the history of both products.
April 2003: Steve Jobs says cell phones are the future, not tablets or PDAs. He says they are working with phone manufacturers on a phone that will sync with the Mac.
October 2003: Android, Inc is founded by Andy Rubin, with the purpose of creating smarter phones.
July 2004: Apple and Motorola announce a partnership. The name “iPhone” is first used by the media.
August 2005: Google acquires Android, Inc.
September 2005: Apple and Motorola release the ROKR E1, a Motorola-built phone that runs iTunes. Rumors of an Apple-built phone begin practically immediately.
1st Quarter 2006: It’s hard to pin this one down, but around this time, rumors of the iPhone begin to solidify with actual evidence.
January 2007: Apple announces the iPhone. At the time, Android looked different than it did when it was released.
June 2007: Apple releases the iPhone.
November 2007: Google releases the Android Beta and Android SDK.
September 2008: Android 1.0 and the HTC Dream are released.
So, who had the idea first? Well, it depends on how you look at it. Andy Rubin and Steve Jobs clearly had an early idea that easy-to-use smartphones were the future. However, it does look like the idea of using a touch screen and not a stylus and d-pad was Apple’s contribution. Google appears to have been gearing toward a battle with Blackberry, Palm, and Windows Mobile in 2007, and rightly so.
You can interpret the timeline however you want, but my opinion is that Apple drove the market to it’s current state, and without the iPhone, Android would look very different today.