Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 20th Dec 2013 11:11 UTC
Google

In light of the recent The Atlantic article, Arnoud Wokke, editor at the popular Dutch technology site Tweakers.net, pointed me to an interesting OSNews comment by Dianne Hackborn, former Be engineer (that's still major street cred right here), former Palm engineer, and Android engineer at Google since early 2006. Her recollection of the story regarding the cancellation of the BlackBerry-esque 'Sooner' prototype and the touchscreen 'Dream' prototype is entirely different from what Vogelstein states in his article.

From a software perspective, Sooner and Dream were basically the same -- different form-factors, one without a touch screen -- but they were not so different as this article indicates and the switch between them was not such a huge upheaval.

The main reason for the differences in schedule was hardware: Sooner was a variation of an existing device that HTC was shipping, while Dream was a completely new device with a lot of things that had never been shipped before, at least by HTC (new Qualcomm chipset, sensors, touch screen, the hinge design, etc). So Sooner was the safe/fast device, and Dream was the risky/long-term device.

However the other factor in this was the software. Work on the Android we know today (which is what is running in that Sooner) basically started around late 2005 / early 2006. I got to Google at the beginning of 2006, and it was around that time we started work on everything from the resource system through the view hierarchy, to the window manager and activity manager that you know today. Some work on stuff we have today (like SurfaceFlinger) was started a bit earlier, but also after Google acquired Android.

Even if there was no iPhone, there is a good chance that Sooner would have been dropped, since while it was a good idea to get Android out quickly from a hardware perspective, the software schedule was much longer. I don't recall the exact dates, but I believe the decision to drop Sooner was well before the iPhone announcement... though we continued to use it for quite a while internally for development, since it was the only semi-stable hardware platform we had. If nothing else, it helped remove significant risk from the schedule since software development could be done on a relatively stable device while the systems team brought up the new hardware in parallel.

This is very different from the somewhat internally inconsistent story Vogelstein tells. I'm very curious to find out where, exactly, the truth lies.

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RE[7]: This means.....?
by kckc on Sat 21st Dec 2013 11:49 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: This means.....?"
kckc
Member since:
2011-01-06

You just can not understand or accept it. The large screen and hand (fingers) operated device was not key to apple iPhone success. If it was than it won't be a period of year before the iPhone starts to sell like crazy.

Please focus on the other, missing part, for this part is the key to iPhone ecosystem and brilliance behind Apple success. They sure have a reason to launch a product that is not special except for touch screen, have a missing features (UMTS, high pixel camera, software stack, GPS, ...) compared to other devices (my N95 have all those features and was available before iPhone 1). And yet they become leader in mobile space.

Why not talk about success of Apple ecosystem compared to alternatives. The brilliance in deals with manufacturers that gave them huge advantage in hardware over competition (first multitouch display in high volumes, same for retina display, samsung cpu ahead of curve, etc.). Or deals with music industry that marked success of iPod devices. Why not mentioning their battery that is really something innovative.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[8]: This means.....?
by Tony Swash on Sat 21st Dec 2013 14:12 in reply to "RE[7]: This means.....?"
Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

You just can not understand or accept it. The large screen and hand (fingers) operated device was not key to apple iPhone success. If it was than it won't be a period of year before the iPhone starts to sell like crazy.

Please focus on the other, missing part, for this part is the key to iPhone ecosystem and brilliance behind Apple success. They sure have a reason to launch a product that is not special except for touch screen, have a missing features (UMTS, high pixel camera, software stack, GPS, ...) compared to other devices (my N95 have all those features and was available before iPhone 1). And yet they become leader in mobile space.

Why not talk about success of Apple ecosystem compared to alternatives. The brilliance in deals with manufacturers that gave them huge advantage in hardware over competition (first multitouch display in high volumes, same for retina display, samsung cpu ahead of curve, etc.). Or deals with music industry that marked success of iPod devices. Why not mentioning their battery that is really something innovative.


I think you are missing the point of this discussion. The issue is not how or why the iPhone and Apple achieved the success it did, although that is a very interesting question and I agree with some of your comments on that question. The issue here is whether the iPhone was an inflection point for the smart phone industry and in particular whether there was any sort of reset of direction within the Android team resulting from the iPhone announcement and demo.

The general drift of coverage of this issue on this site tends strongly to suggest that the Android team independently came up with a design for a phone and phone OS that was essentially the same as the iPhone design and approach and that Apple merely pipped them at the post.

The recent book by Fred Vogelstein’s "Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution" says otherwise, it says that there was a big change of direction in the Android development project resulting from the iPhone launch. It is this book and re-reporting of it's content that provoked the two articles on this issue on OS News. In both articles Thom has sought to downplay the impact of the iPhone on Android. What the discussion here is trying to do is to dig into this question and see if that is true.

Personally I think that when not viewed by from within the small arcane world of techies and tech partisans it is blindly obvious that the iPhone was a shock to everyone outside Apple, that is was like no phone that came before it and that it had such a huge impact on the global phone industry that the world of smart phones post iPhone was completely different to the one before iPhone. In that context the fact that the iPhone had a big impact on the way Android was being developed and changed the direction of that development doesn't seem at surprising to me but it is obviously difficult to accept for some.

Reply Parent Score: 1