This Original Google Concept Phone Is Further Proof That Android Just Ripped Off Apple

This Original Google Concept Phone Is Further Proof That Android Just Ripped Off Apple

Remember back in the day when Apple and Google were all chummy? Back when the original iPhone was released in 2007, and Google wasn’t in the smartphone business? That all changed once Google betrayed Apple’s trust and launched the Android operating system, and ever since then Google has held the stance that they never copied the iPhone. It’s hard to prove that a company wasn’t thinking about something, but newly released designs of Google’s original concept phone from 2006 show that Google wasn’t even considering the creation of a touchscreen smartphone back when the iPhone was unveiled, so they stole Apple’s designs instead once they saw them.

Google went to the carriers with drawings of their concept phone in an effort to increase the use of Google’s mobile services in exchange for providing carriers with “low acquisition cost, high-end data customers.” Considering it was a phone in 2006, the Google Concept Phone looks great. I would have taken it over the Nokia 3100 I was rocking in the Philippines at that time, but it looks a lot like a Blackberry, and nothing like an iPhone. The Verge goes on to explain the specs of the proposed phone:

“Exact specs for those first concepts aren’t detailed, but Google does spell out what it had in mind for the least common denominator across Android devices. An ARMv9 processor of at least 200MHz, GSM (3G preferred), 64MB of RAM and ROM, miniSD (yes, mini, not micro) external storage, a 2-megapixel camera with a dedicated shutter button, USB support, Bluetooth 1.2, and a QVGA display with at least 16-bit color support — a far cry from today’s 720p screens. At that time, touchscreen support wasn’t a requirement — in fact, the baseline specs required two soft menu keys, indicating that touchscreens weren’t really in the plan at all(emphasis mine)

Basically, Google was going to carriers, trying to get them to use their dumbphone. Then Apple unveiled the iPhone which was so radically different from anything on the market and Google realized their phone would be a non-starter if it weren’t touchscreen. So they scrapped their plans, ripped off the iPhone’s hardware and software and called it their own.

After seeing these concept drawings, I can understand a little bit more why Apple feels so pissed off that Google ripped them off. Google never planned to make anything that looked like an iPhone until they saw Apple’s version of the smartphone. Their 2006 concept drawings show they were trying to rip off Blackberry, then once they saw the iPhone they realized it was a better idea to just rip off Apple’s hardware and software.

Imagine Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt sitting at a coffee shop trying to settle their grievances over whether or not Google copied Apple’s idea, when Schmidt says, “Naw man, we like have totally been dreaming up a touchscreen phone for like, forever.” Then Steve busts out the pictures of the Google Concept phone T-Mobile sent him, throws em on the table, gives Schmidt the death-stare for 30-seconds before  saying “Namaste, bitch” and walks off.

What do you think? Did Google rip off the iPhone, or is it mere coincidence that they change their design plans after the iPhone was revealed? Let us hear your opinion in the comments.

This Original Google Concept Phone Is Further Proof That Android Just Ripped Off Apple

Another view of the Google Phone

  • mr_etweet

    I don’t see the similarity, other than it being a “phone”. If I were Steve Jobs in 2007 and Google showed me that, I’d break in to laughter knowing I had something in my pocket (maybe literally) that would put it to shame in a heartbeat.

  • Cormac Lebowski Moylan

    Wait. You’re saying Android ripped off the iPhone hardware design? Android is just software. Apple make both hardware + software for their phones. If anybody ripped off the Apple hardware design it’s the hardware smartphone producers, not Android.

  • John Sims

    There’s no real doubt that Google ripped Apple off, they just say “oh, it’s open source so it’s way better,” and think they’ve made some huge contribution. I’ve had 6 or 7 Android phones that slowed to a halt before the six-month mark (this is with cleaning out cache, deleting unused apps, constant maintenance) and the iPhone 4S I purchased a few months ago shows zero degradation with much heavier usage. Google can rip Apple’s ideas off, but they can’t seem to match their hardware and operating system. I will stick with the iPhone for as long as Apple puts it out.

  • John Sims

    I don’t see the similarity, other than it being a “phone”. If I were Steve Jobs in 2007 and Google showed me that, I’d break in to laughter knowing I had something in my pocket (maybe literally) that would put it to shame in a heartbeat.

    That’s the whole point of the article, if you’d bothered to read it. That was the plan they had when they found out about the iPhone. Obviously it never got released because they knew it was going to flop against Apple’s new phone, so they changed (read: ripped off) ideas. And you think Google has no control over phone designs for their OS? Don’t be silly.

  • Sumdawg01

    This article is just trying to start a flame war. Anyway, the concept of a touchscreen phone was never patented, and rightly so. This doesn’t in any way prove that android “just ripped off apple”

  • Ali Vaseghnia

    I can’t imagine Steve Job’s feeling about Google when they started copying iPhone.

  • Blake Beavers

    You are bad at the English language.

  • Buster

    Wait. You’re saying Android ripped off the iPhone hardware design? Android is just software. Apple make both hardware + software for their phones. If anybody ripped off the Apple hardware design it’s the hardware smartphone producers, not Android.

    Android is Google’s mobile operating system. The operating system dictates minimum hardware requirements for Android supported devices. If a manufacturer like HTC, or Motorola, or Samsung, want to run Android they have to have a touch screen, and certain internal components. Just like Microsoft demands their mobile phones have 6 physical buttons and a X megapixels cameras, etc. Even though Microsoft and Google don’t make the hardware, they have a way of dictating what it should look like.

  • Buster

    Wait. You’re saying Android ripped off the iPhone hardware design? Android is just software. Apple make both hardware + software for their phones. If anybody ripped off the Apple hardware design it’s the hardware smartphone producers, not Android.

    Android is Google’s mobile operating system. The operating system dictates minimum hardware requirements for Android supported devices. If a manufacturer like HTC, or Motorola, or Samsung, want to run Android they have to have a touch screen, and certain internal components. Just like Microsoft demands their mobile phones have 6 physical buttons and a X megapixels cameras, etc. Even though Microsoft and Google don’t make the hardware, they have a way of dictating what it should look like.

  • swrobel

    I think there’s a concept that explains this … competition in a capitalist system? Some dude, maybe his name was Adam Smith, once wrote about it…

  • Andrew John

    Wait. You’re saying Android ripped off the iPhone hardware design? Android is just software. Apple make both hardware + software for their phones. If anybody ripped off the Apple hardware design it’s the hardware smartphone producers, not Android.

    Read the headline dumbass. Google! The Android OS still has the UI code for a keyboard interface written deep inside the code. When Google found out about the iPhone, the hurriedly wrote a touch UI code on top of the old one, hence the ongoing touch lag. Because of this, the touch UI needs hardware acceleration to run, instead of it being handled by the software. More proof Google ripped off the iPhone, the evidence, there for all to see, in their own code. That is why they made it open source, they knew selling it would bring them grief, so they leave the manufacturers to cop the heat. Please read the story before commenting.

  • Justin Gilbert

    I’m a huge Apple proponent but really? This article would be a lot more credible if it said they intended to rip off the Treo or the Blackberries of the time but switched to ripping off Apple…but instead it says it was going to be like the Blackberries but then they ripped off the iPhone. So its OK to rip off one but not the other?

    I say good on em. Apple needs the competition. Every company does. Or else they get complacent.

  • Jasmo

    This article is just trying to start a flame war. Anyway, the concept of a touchscreen phone was never patented, and rightly so. This doesn’t in any way prove that android “just ripped off apple”

    Multi-touch, Proximity sensor, visual voicemail, UI design and functionality, I could go on. The headline does provoke a flamewar. It was my first thought however. Google’s answer was always, we where developing our smart phone/droid before the iPhone. And now we know this is it!

  • jadvargasPhD

    I saw an info graphic online with an image of the top 10 selling phones of every maker before the iPhone, then the iPhone at the center of a funnel and all the phones after it, that look nothing like they did before it, and all look pretty much like cheap iPhone knock offs. That a judge even has to go through the motions on any of these cases is insane!

  • CraigHeile

    The manner in which the Apple-Samsung dispute is resolved will give us a glimpse into the soul of Tim Cook and show us how much of Steve Jobs’ most deeply held convictions can be transfused into others. The torrential IPhone profits might ease the pain of what-might-have-been for almost anybody else, but I can’t see the intense flame burning within Jobs accepting a settlement this early. Perhaps the FaceTime protocol would be closer to industry-wide adoption if Android’s rise hadn’t limited the iPhone’s market penetration.

  • figgehedbeg

    I think Steve knew exactly what google was up to….’good artists copy, great artists steal’

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW0DUg63lqU&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    Personally I could not care less who invented / copied / ripped off who, what matter to me is that we as consumers get the full benefit from the latest technology.
    I truly appreciate both for different reasons…..

  • ApplePr0n

    I looked at Android and I could tell that it was ripped off from the beginning. From the way it acts, apps, etc.

  • ApplePr0n

    I looked at Android and I could tell that it was ripped off from the beginning. From the way it acts, apps, etc.

  • voloder

    The truth is out!

  • baby_Twitty

    Google’s Eric Schmuck is the biggest mole in the whole wide world.

  • Ed_Kel

    I think there is a little more to be told about Google in these pictures. Their prototype resembled a Blackberry before it was changed to resemble an iPhone. They obviously don’t have their own ideas and this just proves that Google has been out to copy their competitors even before the iPhone made it big.

  • winterstream

    Everyone “rips off” everyone else. Ideas don’t come from vacuums. As stated in another comment here, Steve Jobs himself even repeated Picasso’s famous saying: “good artists copy, great artists steal”.

    A touchscreen is but one component of an entire system. I’m surprised that no-one says anything about iOS copying Android’s notification system. What about the inspiration provided by Android’s voice system? Siri may be better but there’s no doubting who was first.

    The iPhone is a beautiful device but if you look back you can see where it gets its inspiration from. You do a disservice to the creative endeavor if you pretend that creativity works in any other way.

    Disclaimer: I am a Mac user but my phone is an HTC Desire (running stock Android).

    EDIT: Removed the video pointing to the interview where Jobs quoted Picasso, as someone else in the comments has already included the video in his comment.

  • Timm Eddy

    Funny thing is android inc (which started in 03) was purchased by google in 05 meaning android was in development well before ios (which has been started dev started in 05) so these are just adding to the laughter to the “who copied who”

  • Andrew Hasara

    I can’t understand why The Verge thinks the soft keys meant no touchscreen. The Treo phones from Palm had both touchscreen and 2 soft keys (and a QWERTY keyboard). They are not mutually exclusive. People are just see what they want to see.

  • Jasmo

    Everyone “rips off” everyone else. Ideas don’t come from vacuums. As stated in another comment here, Steve Jobs himself even repeated Picasso’s famous saying: “good artists copy, great artists steal”.

    A touchscreen is but one component of an entire system. I’m surprised that no-one says anything about iOS copying Android’s notification system. What about the inspiration provided by Android’s voice system? Siri may be better but there’s no doubting who was first.

    The iPhone is a beautiful device but if you look back you can see where it gets its inspiration from. You do a disservice to the creative endeavor if you pretend that creativity works in any other way.

    Disclaimer: I am a Mac user but my phone is an HTC Desire (running stock Android).

    EDIT: Removed the video pointing to the interview where Jobs quoted Picasso, as someone else in the comments has already included the video in his comment.

    Not entirely correct on voice control. It was debuted on Apple’s handset with the iPhone 3GS in 2009. Google’s superior voice actions debuted in 2010. Siri has up-ed the ante for Apple last year.

    I will give you notifications. That was a nice inprovement that was missing on the iPhone. Again when taken in totallaty, that is all I can think of. Keep in mind that Apple does exclude expected features if they hinder functionality and not work great. i.e. copy and paste, multitasking. Where-in it is pretty obvious that Droid is a iPhone clone in many aspects.

    Edit: excessive block quotes!

  • JBdog25

    There’s no real doubt that Google ripped Apple off, they just say “oh, it’s open source so it’s way better,” and think they’ve made some huge contribution. I’ve had 6 or 7 Android phones that slowed to a halt before the six-month mark (this is with cleaning out cache, deleting unused apps, constant maintenance) and the iPhone 4S I purchased a few months ago shows zero degradation with much heavier usage. Google can rip Apple’s ideas off, but they can’t seem to match their hardware and operating system. I will stick with the iPhone for as long as Apple puts it out.

    Really??? I gave my old Nexus One to a family member and it still runs like a champ and it is over 2 years old. The Nexus S also worked perfectly for the year that I had it and now my Galaxy Nexus is great also. My iDevices are slightly smoother but not by that much and I use Android and iOS on a daily basis. I currently have the Galaxy Nexus, iPhone 4 and HTC Radar(Windows Phone) and my Nexus is by far the best one with the iPhone being a very close second.

  • darkops

    Well if the didn’t copy each other, what would we be arguing about then?

  • TopAgentWebsite

    Great read. I think I would have done the same thing though. The first concept def. needed another look. And if they got some inspiration from Apple, then more props to them.

About the author

Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Senior News Editor and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Twitter: @bst3r.

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