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Jobs called Android 'stolen,' vowed to 'destroy' it

updated 07:30 am EDT, Fri October 21, 2011

Believed Google guilty of 'grand theft'

As reviews and excerpts of Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs begin to spill out, one area that will receive a lot of attention is the Apple co-founder's uncensored animosity towards Google for the "wholesale" theft of Apple's ideas and patents in creating Android, the rival operating system for mobile devices that started off life being nothing like the Apple vision and rapidly pivoted after the iPhone appeared. Jobs vowed he would "destroy" Android, "because it's a stolen product."

"I will spend my last dying breath if I need to," Jobs told his biographer, "and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong." Isaacson writes that Jobs had tried to convince Google not to develop its own mobile operating system, offering prime real estate on the iPhone as well as early access, but was unsuccessful.

The author added that Jobs would get unusually blunt and angry when discussing the ongoing lawsuits, which so far have been directed against Google only by proxy, through handset manufacturers such as HTC and Samsung, though in the case of the latter company Apple also has hardware design grievances distinct from any issues with Android. So far, Apple has been more successful in the legal fights, though additional lawsuits and judgements are still continuing.

Google's own press materials (an example is seen below) tend to support Jobs' view. Prior to the iPhone, early versions of Android looked like a cross between the then-standard OS used on the iPod and the Blackberry OS, both of which were market leaders in 2007. Shortly after the iPhone came out, the design of the OS radically changed to reflect the new paradigms that Apple had established. A similar transformation took place in the pre-existing tablet computer space before and after the iPad. The copying ultimately resulted in Google CEO Eric Schmidt being pushed off the board at Apple over conflicts of interest.

There is also the matter of Google's own e-mail communications that clearly establish the company was aware that Android may be violating some patents regarding Java, currently owned by Oracle. The database giant has sued Google over the licensing issues in a high-stakes case that could cost Google billions if it loses. Even worse, a finding that Google willfully infringed on Oracle's patents would strongly bolster Jobs' claim that the modern Android OS is largely a mediocre imitation of patented Apple ideas.

Android has already proven to be more costly than Google originally envisaged. Despite being a free and "open" operating system, both Google and its partners have paid out millions to either avoid lawsuits from companies like Microsoft that claim the software infringes, or to fight lawsuits such as Oracle's. Customers are also unhappy with poor-quality apps, malware and security threats and the carrier- and advertising-centric nature of Android that sees many devices sold, but quickly become obsolete when either the carrier or Google itself no longer support it with OS updates. Developers have also complained of a large revenue gap between incomes from iOS and Android.

Jobs had a low opinion of both Android and other Google efforts, telling Isaacson that apart from search (and, apparently, maps), most of Google's products -- specifically naming Google Docs -- were poor. He said the company was guilty of "grand theft" in appropriating the look and feel of iOS into Android. Jobs defended criticism of Apple's much more tight control of iOS apps and development compared to Android's looser, semi-open approach by saying that Apple's philosophy was born out of "a desire to make great products, not crap."

"Our lawsuit is saying [Google] ... ripped off the iPhone, wholesale ripped us off," said Jobs, referring to the HTC lawsuit that has been widely seen as a proxy fight with Google. "I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this." In a subsequent and well-publicized meeting with Schmidt at a Palo Alto cafe, Jobs told Schmidt that he had no interest in settling the lawsuit, Isaacson writes. "I don't want your money," Jobs told Schmidt, "... I've got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that's all I want."

According to the book, which is officially released on Monday, "the meeting resolved nothing."

by MacNN Staff



  1. beb

    Joined: Dec 1969



    One cannot control a free market forever, no matter how great the man or the product. And yes, Apple products certainly have gravitas in spades. The question going forward is how should Apple deal with this?

  1. tbarry

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    This partly explains why Google Earth for iPad is unavailable in iTunes Stores outside USA (but i doesn't exp[lain why if I try to get this free app from the USA Store I am in breach of the T&C and threatened with retaliations for trying to access it. I bought my iPad2 in the Apple Store in Asia where I live!

  1. torpeau

    Joined: Dec 1969



    For the CEO of Google to sit on Apple's board while the iPhone was being developed, and then for Google to offer a competing OS that they give away for free to Apple's phone competitors -- sounds fishy to me.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. J2-Droid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Didn't realize Jobs was so frightened of Android

    If Microsoft could sink Apple the first time by licensing windows, Jobs knew that an open-source Android was a serious threat.

    I am getting sick of this finger pointing though. Five years ago any nerd with an imagination had daydreamed about a divice that was basically an easy to use computer in your hand. Jobs didn't start anything, technology just caught up to our imaginations. So, is there only going to be one brand of flying cars or any other scifi idea restricted by technology.

  1. cartoonspin

    Joined: Dec 1969


    You don't get it

    Why not create something original. I'm sick of the copying that continues to happen. Do you realize that in the 90's Apple stopped innovating and so did the industry. Of course they did, since the one company they copied stopped creating innovative products. Apple put the pieces together and perfected the iphone and ipad. Those technologies already existed, but it was they who made it successful in the marketplace. Now google copies them with the guise of open source. They copied from everyone!!!!!

    Why do you think MS is winning lawsuits and Oracle will win as well, because they stole ideas and code.

  1. pairof9s

    Joined: Dec 1969


    RE: Didn't realize...

    And when exactly did that technology meet up with our imaginations? Was it exactly one day before the iPhone was announced? 2 days before? 2 years before? Or perhaps exactly when Android was released?

    Saying you can create something and actually creating it are two very separate events. There is no doubt that Google's Android intended to leech the flavor of the time (Blackberry) until the iPhone become a real product. Then they decided to leech the newest flavor of the time.

    If there is any finger pointing done, it should be towards those whose only capacity is to imitate others success in cheap fashion. I say all power to Apple to use every bit of the $40+ billion dollars towards suing Google and others til proper compensation is realized.


    Comment buried. Show
  1. lamewing

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Before and after

    Those pics of the before and after the iPad are not a true representation of the situation regarding tablets. There were MANY slates that were not built like the bulky toughbook-style tablets shown above. Fujitsu had several very nice slates long before the iPad came along and they didn't look anything like the pics above.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. worldbfree4me

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Hmmm, wonder if Palm would have approached Jobs and told him to stop using their idea's what he would have said?

    Comment buried. Show
  1. J2-Droid

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Apple more or less put an end to Xerox's ambitions to enter the pc/os market by stealing there tech. Isn't that the same situation?

  1. aristotles

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Google sees you as a product

    If you use google products and services be they gmail, google search or Android handsets, you are not their customer. They see you as their product because they are primarily an advertising company. The "free" service that they provide are basically feed for the cattle. *Hint* Android users are cattle in Google's eyes.

    Apple, on the other hand, sees consumers as their customers and any free services they provide like iCloud are provided as a loss leader to get you to buy more goods and services from them. This is why Apple has strict policies on third parties collecting your information.

    Google's Schmitt does not care about the privacy of their users because he does not see you as his customer. You are just an eyeball which they don't care too much if they lose especially if they become the only game in town one day.

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