Andy Rubin is a vice president for engineering at Google, and he is responsible for the Android mobile operating system project. He recently had an hour long chat with The New York Times’ Brad Stone, sharing his insights into things like openness, the lack of secret APIs in Android, and several other things. Of course, the jabs at Apple were prevalent.
Openness is the keyword of the interview, and Rubin uses it to clearly set Android apart from Apple’s restrictive iPhone operating system. He first states that because Android is open ad free to use by any OEM, it will eventually win out over proprietary, closed platforms like that of Apple and RIM. “It’s a numbers game. When you have multiple OEM’s building multiple products in multiple product categories, it’s just a matter of time,” Rubin said, “I don’t know when it [Android outselling Apple/RIM] might be, but I’m confident it will happen. Open usually wins.”
Rubin event went as far as to compare Apple’s iPhone OS to North Korea. He states that users will care about openness as soon as they realise the lack of it means they can’t have things. “When they can’t have something, people do care. Look at the way politics work. I just don’t want to live in North Korea,” he said.
Stone also asked whether or not Google has an innate advantage over competitors on the Android Market because Google might use secret APIs. Rubin denied this, and slipped in yet another stab towards Apple.
“We use the same tools we expect our third-party developers to,” Rubin told the NYT, “We have an SDK we give to developers, and when we write our Gmail app, we use the same SDK. A lot of guys have private APIs. We don’t. That’s on policy and on technology. If there’s a secret API to hook into a billing system we open up that billing system to third parties. If there’s a secret API to allow application multitasking, we open it up. There are no secret APIs. That is important to highlight for Android sake. Open is open and we live by our own implementations.”
Recently, Steve Jobs made a traditional “think-of-the-children” remark – he said that “folks who want porn can buy an Android phone”. Rubin didn’t feel like responding to this. “I don’t really have a rationale for that,” he said, “It’s a different style of interacting with the public and the media.”
And what if a Google employee lost an Android phone prototype at a bar? “I’d be happy if that happened and someone wrote about it,” Rubin said, “With openness comes less secrets.”
But the lost phone is also a new hardware spec.
It’s not only the OS.
I think Rubin is correct about his comparisons, especially when you compare it to Apple’s hardware. Apple tell users what they can use their device for and nothing more. Google and the Android platform on the other hand gives the users something they can do what they like with.
The “North Korea” comparison is funny because it’s true. A dictatorship that North Korea has does exactly the same as Apple do(or in fact Steve Jobs), tell you what you can and cannot do and if you don’t stick to that and Jail Break the device, you’re branded as a criminal.
I think customers will and are starting to realise this and why Android is gaining market share very fast. Apple are dictators, nobody wants to be dictated to in how they should use their devices.