In recent years Android has certainly expanded well beyond just the smartphone, finding itself on televisions, set-top boxes, tablets and even cameras. What you might not know is that when Android was first conceived, it wasn’t even aimed at smartphones.
Today at the Japan New Economy Summit in Tokyo, Android co-founder Andy Rubin showed off slides from his very first pitch for Android. Back in 2004, Rubin and company had dreams of a world of smart cameras that would easily connect to the PC and then link to an “Android Datacenter”.
The exact same platform, the exact same operating system we built for cameras, that became Android for cellphones.
In short, it was a camera platform that would also have a cloud system for storing photos online. So what happened? The digital camera market was already slowing down and five months after their original presentation, they returned with a new pitch that declared Android as an “open-source handset solution”.
The next step in Android’s evolution would be the hiring of team members that had experience at carriers like T-Mobile and Orange. The year was 2005, and the goal was to prepare Android to compete against Symbian and Microsoft. At this point, the iPhone had obviously yet to enter into the equation.
Rubin also made it clear that from the beginning Android was aimed at the mass market, with an emphasis on OS growth, not per-unit income.
“We wanted as many cellphones to use Android as possible. So instead of charging $99, or $59, or $69, to Android, we gave it away for free, because we knew the industry was price sensitive.”
In the early days of smartphones, hardware vendors had to pay a pretty hefty amount in order to license mobile operating systems, which meant that phone vendors had to jack up the prices in order to make a profit.
As we all know, Android shook up this model quite a bit by introducing an open-source OS that was free to use, with the idea instead being for Android to make its money from selling services and products.
Android’s original projection was to have 9 percent of the North American and European market share by 2010. Considering Android runs on over 70% of all smartphones around the world and averages 1.5 million new activations each day, we’d say that the stomped all over that goal.
Google has accomplished a lot with Android, and Andy Rubin has been a big part of it all. While Rubin might not be leading Android’s development any longer, he does ensure he will continue to create great products directed at end users. “I can pretty much guarantee you that whatever I do next it’s going to be something that delights consumers.”