Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 14th Apr 2014 16:40 UTC

From a 2006 (pre-iPhone) Android specification document:

Touchscreens will not be supported: the Product was designed with the presence of discrete physical buttons as an assumption.

However, there is nothing fundamental in the Product's architecture that prevents the support of touchscreens in the future.

The same document, but a few versions later, from 2007 (post-iPhone):

A touchscreen for finger-based navigation - including multi-touch capabilites - is required.

The impact of the iPhone on Android in two documents. Google knew the iPhone would change the market, while Microsoft, Nokia, and BlackBerry did not. That's why Android is now the most popular smartphone platform, while the mentioned three are essentially irrelevant.

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You're making bold assumptions with hindsight. Serious technological leaders in the space were not prepared to bet on fully-touchscreen devices (Nokia, Samsung, Sony/E, Palm, Blackberry) until after Apple showed off their implementation.

And no, it's completely inaccurate to say that anyone with half a brain knew that cap touch would be the way forward. It was a big risk by Apple to assume that a) consumers would like this, and b) it would actually work as the primary way to interact with a phone. Even when the iPhone came out a decent portion of very intelligent people weren't 100% convinced it was actually a better way than using physical keys. Even now, physical keys have their own advantages that touchscreens do not - haptic feedback, for example.

These were new and novel interaction techniques, where Apple in entirity had their skin in the game, spending money on R&D, evaluating interaction techniques, determining performance minimums, target acquisition size guidelines, affordances for touch controls. It took Google/Samsung many years to reverse engineer (or otherwise determine) some of the things Apple had from day one - such as the need for high fps when dealing with direct manipulation interfaces.

What Google and Samsung did is no different to what the Chinese knockoff manufacturers do. NOKLA and the like. They make it look similar, and function similar, completely "inspired" by the original - by that I mean, a copy to the best of their abilities. But in most cases they lack a lot of the design that made the original work well. Had Samsung not been able to use Apple's R&D as a basis, Apple would likely have sold more iPhones. Alternatively, Apple would be making money from licencing their IP to Samsung. It was their risk, they should get their reward.

My background is in HCI research - even a lot of the cutting edge university research on these sort of topics hadn't even considered some of what Apple brought to the table with the iPhone.

Edited 2014-04-15 00:14 UTC

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