Andy Rubin, the man credited with the great success of Android as a smartphone OS, has come out and said that the operating system was originally intended for smart cameras rather than mobile computing devices.
The smart cameras that Rubin & his co-founders envisioned would use the Android OS to connect to PCs, but it was reworked to better fit smartphones as that market had began to grow at a great pace.
“The exact same platform, the exact same operating system we built for cameras, that became Android for cellphones,” Android co-founder Andy Rubin said at Japan New Economy Summit in Tokyo. Rubin, who became a high-level Google exec after the acquisition of Android in 2005, said the planned camera platform was heavily built around cloud services and online storage.
Rubin also showed slides from the original pitch to investors in April 2004, one of which showed a camera connected to a home computer in wired and wireless setups and which then linked to an Android Datacenter. Growth in digital cameras was gradually slowing down as smartphones changed the market and made digital photography truly mainstream. Rubin and Co revamped their business plan and five months after the original pitch, the company called their OS platform an “open-source handset solution,” which is how we are most familiar with Android now.
Then, in 2005, Android got team members with experience at the likes of T-Mobile and Orange, and began to target the then smartphone biggie Windows Mobile. Apple’s iOS didn’t enter the picture until 2007. “We decided digital cameras wasn’t actually a big enough market. I was worried about Microsoft and I was worried about Symbian, I wasn’t worried about iPhone yet,” Rubin said.
He added: “We wanted as many cellphones to use Android as possible. So instead of charging $99, or $59, or $69, to Android, we gave it away for free, because we knew the industry was price sensitive.”
The company’s original projection was that Android would account for 9 percent of the market in North America and Europe by 2010. But last year, Android had claimed 72 percent of the market. In March, Google said that over 750 million devices were running Android and accessing the internet globally.
We don’t know if Rubin played any part in the adoption of Android for connected cameras these days, but it seems the OS is returning to its origins. Samsung has launched a Galaxy Camera that runs Android, while traditional camera makers Nikon and Polaroid also have their versions of the Android camera.
At the event, Rubin also said that he would continue to create products directed at consumers. “I can pretty much guarantee you that whatever I do next it’s going to be something that delights consumers,” said Rubin, who had stepped down from his role running all things Android at Google in order to “start a new chapter” at the company.