If you are a beginner on Android development you probably won’t remember how the battle between the two big companies that dominate the mobile OS market, Apple and Android, started.
Becoming the most popular operative system in the world wasn’t easy for Android, who saw how Apple started to domain the new smartphone era before them, even making Android to postpone their first device launching.
The beginning of Android’s focus on developers
We’ve mentioned before how Android owns about 85% of all smartphones sales globally, helping world’s economic to grow whereas the iPhone accounts for 11%.
The main responsible of Android’s success was Andy Rubin, a tech pioneer who was Google’s Senior Vice President of Mobile and Digital Contents from 2005 to 2013.
However, before being involved in the company that changed his live, Rubin worked in a few tech specialized companies, including the one that became Android’s principal competitor a few years later, Apple. Ironically, while he was working at Apple, he even got the nickname of “Android”.
After working for Apple and before working for Google, Rubin founded “Danger”, a startup where he developed an open-sourced mobile system. If Rubin hadn´t founded “Danger”, who knows if later, he would implemented those characteristics into Android OS.
The first major challenge for Android
Rubin’s principal mission was to build an operating system capable to set a new era on mobile devices. But when he was developing the first prototypes of Android, Steve Jobs came out with the big invention that changed the mobile world: the iPhone.
Being the first smartphone capable of performing amazing things that people wasn’t used to do with cellphones of that time was the punch that Apple was looking to get when they launched the iPhone.
After watching Apple’s webcast on their release, according to Fred Vogelstein on his book “Dogfight: How Apple And Google Went To War And Started A Revolution” Rubin told one of his colleagues: “I guess we’re not going to ship that phone.”
So, at that moment, Google and Rubin had a new and difficult challenge: being capable to fight hand to hand with the new mobile sensation that was knocking out all their competitors with massive sales and great reviews from experts in the field.
The Android team then modified their original plans and their original phone. Eventually, they launched a very different version from the one they´ve initially thought about.
Open Source, the unexpected hero?
We are not sure if Google predicted Android success by launching it as an open source. However, it became one of the most remarkable features of Android, which has helped developers to create thousand of apps.
Google saw an opportunity and pitched Android OS as a platform for developers. This situation has made carriers and manufacturers felt more comfortable with a platform that isn’t linked or monopolized by a particular phone maker.
For example, the first-ever Android device was a combined effort from HTC, providing it a body (the physical phone); Google, giving it the soul (OS); and T-Mobile, bringing it to life (the carrier of the signal that makes it work as a communication device).
Open Source helped Android to make strategic alliances with many mobile brands that felt the threat of the iPhone. You can say that was a master play to overcome Apple’s numbers and create the current empire of mobile devices dominated mostly by Android.
The move was enabling openness to manufacturers and developers so they could create great experiences for a large base of users. Do you also think this contributed to the success of Android?