Google’s Reaction to the iPhone’s Launch: We’re Doing It Wrong!

Steve jobs holding iphone 640x480

The introduction of the iPhone back in 2007 was not only a breakthrough moment for Apple, but it also messed up Google’s two-year-old Android project, according to The Atlantic.

The search giant had been focusing on a project that aimed to bring a cure to the dysfunctional software industry for mobile phones. Everyone knew that Apple was working on a phone, but as the Google team advanced with the software, everything seemed to be on the right track.

Until Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone on January 9, 2007.

Chris DeSalvo’s reaction to the iPhone was immediate and visceral. “As a consumer I was blown away. I wanted one immediately. But as a Google engineer, I thought ‘We’re going to have to start over.’”

On the day Jobs announced the iPhone, the director of the Android team, Andy Rubin, was six hundred miles away in Las Vegas, on his way to a meeting with one of the myriad handset makers and carriers that descend on the city for the Consumer Electronics Show. He reacted exactly as DeSalvo predicted. Rubin was so astonished by what Jobs was unveiling that, on his way to a meeting, he had his driver pull over so that he could finish watching the webcast.

“Holy crap,” he said to one of his colleagues in the car. “I guess we’re not going to ship that phone.”

That was the moment when the whole Google project “looked so nineties.” While the phone, code-named Sooner, was allegedly more revolutionary than the iPhone, it was ugly. By contrast, the iPhone looked cool.

This triggered Andy Rubin and the Android team to rethink their strategy and bring forward another project, a phone with a touchscreen, code-named “Dream,” that was in the early stages of development.

The rest is history.