While the “father of Android”, Andy Rubin, no longer works at Google, the other co-founder of the operating system, Rich Miner, still works for the Mountain View firm.
And recently, he posted a series of tweets revealing some trivia about the early days of the Android operating system, as well as a rendering of a prototype that could have been the first Android smartphone.
As a reminder, Google bought the operating system in 2005. But the first Android smartphone was only released in 2008: it was the HTC Dream, also called T-Mobile G1.
As a reminder, here is what this smartphone looked like.
Do You Remember The HTC Dream G1? pic.twitter.com/D5JZEgFOgw
— History of Android 🎃 (@Android_History) October 8, 2022
At the time, Android was still a fairly rudimentary operating system. Nothing to do with the modern interface we have today with Android 13. Below is a video presenting Google products running on the very first Android smartphone.
Google had planned another model, to compete with BlackBerry
What we didn’t know was that Google had planned to release another smartphone. This was just revealed in Miner’s post series.
According to him, at the time, Google was working on two mobiles. There was the HTC Dream, but also the “Sooner” smartphone. The co-founder of Android explains that the latter was closer to the BlackBerry.
All along we were working on 2 phones, Sooner, more blackberry-like & Dream, touchscreen based. After the iPhone launch we did cancel Sooner to focus on Dream (eventually the Google G1) but its design changed little from this rendering made 5 months before the iPhone launched. pic.twitter.com/lC8m0WolgE
—Rich Miner (@richminer) October 31, 2022
After the release of the first iPhone, Google decided to abandon the Sooner project, in order to focus on the Dream. The two models are very similar, with the sliding screen.
However, the Sooner would have stood out thanks to its colors, the presence of more physical buttons, as well as the use of a wheel for navigation.
In any case, if the iPhone had not been released, then it is possible that Google has released the Sooner smartphone and that the smartphone industry (dominated by Android devices) has taken another direction.
No, Android was not created to counter Apple
Rich Miner’s Twitter thread was a reaction to an article published by Business Insider about Meta’s efforts to develop its metaverse. Since Apple is also developing its augmented reality and virtual reality platform, this rivalry between Mark Zuckerberg’s company and that of Tim Cook is compared to the Android vs iOS rivalry on smartphones.
The article indicates in particular that Android was developed to counter the iPhone and iOS. But this is denied by Rich Miner.
“Our concern in 2005 was not Apple, but Microsoft which had launched Windows Mobile”, reveals the co-founder of Android. At the time Microsoft controlled the PC market. And Google (which bought Android this year) didn’t want that to happen again in the smartphone market.
Today, Windows Mobile no longer exists and Microsoft uses Google’s operating system on its smartphones. According to revelations from Bille Gates in 2019, the failure of the mobile version of Windows is amputated in the lawsuits for abuse of dominant position which Microsoft was the subject of in the 2000s.
Indeed, the former boss of the Redmond firm is convinced that without these lawsuits, the company could have better focused on its mobile operating system, to make it the dominant platform.