News Analysis: Apple's Steve Jobs, as fierce a business competitor as ever lived, couldn't truthfully claim that Android was a 'Stolen' product. But his anger that Google, headed by former Apple director Eric Schmidt, developed Android as a competing mobile OS apparently knew no bounds.
One of the many revelations
in the biography of Steve Jobs from author Walter Isaacson is Jobs' assertion
that Android was a "stolen product." According to Hayley Tsukayama's report in The
Washington Post, Jobs was furious about Android and vowed to spend all of
Apple's cash to destroy it. The problem is Jobs was wrong about Android. Or if
he's right, then the iPhone was also a stolen product.
The reason that Steve Jobs was wrong is fairly simple to see if you've watched technology
product development over the years. Nearly every product grows on the work done
before it and the iPhone (and iPod Touch) are no exception. Apple created a
very nice design for the iPhone, a design that was innovative, included new
ways of doing things and most of all was attractive. But the iPhone was a
derivative of other products, and while it was an improvement over what came
before it (as it should be), it still depended on the ideas developed in those
You have to ask yourself
what it was that Jobs thought made Android a stolen product. Was it the user
interface of icons on a screen that launched applications when touched? Palm
had that feature years before Apple ever had a phone. Was it the touch-screen?
Palm had that, too, although it worked better if you used a stylus, but then,
so does the iPhone. Was it the third-party applications? Several handheld
devices had that long before the iPhone, including some Windows-driven phones
as well as those from Palm. Was it the integration of email and the personal
digital assistant? There were a lot of those out there, too, including the
So what exactly is it that
Jobs thinks Android took from Apple? The sleek look of the device? Can you
patent that? The thin profile? The touch keyboard? Apple didn't invent any of
those things, although the company's designers did a masterful job of
integrating them into a single product. Perhaps, it was the ability to play
music on your device? Nope, Apple wasn't first with that, either.
So why is it that Steve Jobs
was so willing to blow his company's cash reserves on an endless marketing and
legal campaign to destroy this product? Was it perhaps a statement of Steve
Jobs' famous temperament? Perhaps it was his belief that only Apple could have
good ideas? It's hard to tell now that Jobs is gone, but Jobs was famous for
his temperament as related by Doug Hardy in Forbes.
Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.
He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.