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Android 'started over' the day the iPhone was announced

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Android 4.0 welcome robot (STOCK)
Android 4.0 welcome robot (STOCK)

Apple's boast that the iPhone changed everything about the mobile industry has received some support from one of Android's original software architects. Chris DeSalvo, who worked alongside Andy Rubin at Danger before joining Google to build its mobile OS, says that the iPhone's announcement forced everyone on his team to realize that they "are going to have to start over."

Already in intensive development for two years by 2007, Android was Google's vision for a mobile operating system of the future. Still, in spite of all the work that had already gone into it, the Mountain View company was sure it couldn't carry on along the trajectory it'd been following — the earliest Android devices looked very much like Googlified BlackBerrys — and had to alter its plans to compete with the iPhone's new touch-centric interface. A book excerpt in The Atlantic cites Andy Rubin, who led the early development of Android, as saying "I guess we’re not going to ship that phone," in reference to the Sooner project Google was initially planning to reveal to the world.

Hitting the reset button at the right time

The result of the iPhone-prompted rejig in Google was a delay in releasing the first Android device, but it also led to a very different UI paradigm than what had been originally envisioned. The HTC-built T-Mobile G1 still had a keyboard, though it was now a slider that tucked out of the way — the primary way to interact with the phone would be via touch. In the time since 2007, the iPhone and Android have collectively transformed the entire mobile landscape, with the original archetype that Google was emulating, the BlackBerry, fading out of significance. Changing course back then may have been painful, but history appears to have vindicated Google's decision.