Excerpt: How Google bought Android—according to folks in the room


Androids: The crew that constructed the Android working system is a brand new e book from longtime Android engineer Chet Haase. Haase has been on the Android crew since 2010, and he interviewed dozens of Googlers for this e book, which provides a behind-the-scenes take a look at early Android improvement. With Haase’s permission, we’re giving readers a take a look at chapters 4 and 5 of the e book, “The Pitch,” and “The Acquisition.” That portion covers the unbiased Android Inc.’s seek for enterprise capital and the crew’s eventual assembly with Google. The e book is out this weekend in eBook and paperback (Amazon, Google Play), and Haase is donating proceeds to Black Girls Code and Women Who Code.

By mid-2005, Android was acquired and the future seemed vibrant. But simply six months earlier, issues weren’t fairly as rosy. In January of that yr, the startup was determined for money and their principal activity was the identical as for many startups: getting funding. After the pivot from a digicam OS to an open supply telephone platform, they nonetheless had the daunting activity of truly constructing a product, which meant they’d want more cash to rent a big sufficient crew to do the work.

The original demo, written by Brian Swetland and Chris White and later enhanced by Fadden, showing a home screen and several apps (most of which were not implemented). It’s a far cry from a modern Android home screen.

The unique demo, written by Brian Swetland and Chris White and later enhanced by Fadden, displaying a house display and a number of other apps (most of which weren’t applied). It’s a far cry from a contemporary Android house display.

Chet Haase

So the firm targeted on three issues. First, they wanted a demo to present what was attainable. Next, they wanted to articulate their imaginative and prescient and create a pitch deck to assist clarify that imaginative and prescient. Finally, they wanted to take the demo and the slide deck on the highway to pitch their story to potential buyers.

Demo time

The first job for Andy McFadden (identified to the crew as “Fadden”) when he joined was solidifying the demo, a prototype telephone system that Brian Swetland and Chris White had been engaged on. It wasn’t truly useful (for instance, it confirmed a inventory ticker on the house display which used a set of hard-coded symbols and off information). But the demo represented a imaginative and prescient of what the product could possibly be when it was truly applied.

One of the apps that Fadden added to the demo was a easy calendar software. This early demo venture would come again to hang-out him. After many intervening years of engaged on issues all through the Android plat- kind, he ended up serving to out with the Android Calendar app. Time waits for no man… however calendar apps do.

The cell alternative

As the crew honed their imaginative and prescient, they created a slide deck to clarify it. These slides painted an image of the alternatives that they noticed for Android in the market, in addition to an image of how Android would generate income for the buyers.

The slide deck in March of 2005 had fifteen slides, which was sufficient to seize the consideration of VCs in addition to Google.

The pitch deck received attention-grabbing by the second slide, which in contrast PC and telephone markets. In 2004, there have been 178 million shipments of PCs world- vast. During the identical interval, there have been 675 million telephones shipped; practically 4 occasions as many items as PCs, however with processors and reminiscence that have been as succesful as PCs have been in 1998.

This potential in cell {hardware} was a degree that Dianne Hackborn, then at PalmSource and ultimately on the Android crew, was additionally interested by. The cell trade was prepared to pop as a result of there was lastly sufficient energy for there to be an actual, succesful computing platform: Dianne mentioned, “You could see the writing on the wall. The hardware was getting more powerful, and the market was already bigger than PCs.”

The presentation additionally recognized the drawback of the rising value of mo- bile software program. The value of {hardware} was taking place, however that of software program was not, making it a bigger and bigger proportion of the per-handset value. But handset producers weren’t specialists in software program platform improvement and didn’t have the talent set or curiosity in offering the rising capabilities required to differentiate their software program from that of their opponents.

An open alternative

The second main level in the pitch deck was that there was a spot, and a possibility, in the marketplace for an open platform. That is, Android can be an working system that was free and out there to producers by open supply. Companies would give you the option to use and distribute this OS on their very own telephones, with out being beholden to a software program supplier and with out having to construct it themselves. This open strategy was one thing that was merely not out there at the moment.

Microsoft supplied a proprietary OS that producers might license after which port to their {hardware}. Symbian was primarily utilized by Nokia, with some uptake from Sony and Motorola. RIM had its personal platform, which it used just for its personal BlackBerry gadgets. But there was no different on the market for producers that wished a succesful smartphone with out both constructing their very own OS, placing vital effort into customizing an current one, and/or paying a excessive licensing payment.

Slide 7 diagrammed the potential for an open platform, providing something that was otherwise not available at that time.
Enlarge / Slide 7 diagrammed the potential for an open platform, offering one thing that was in any other case not out there at the moment.

Chet Haase

Even extra problematic, the programs that have been out there failed to present an ecosystem for functions. Symbian supplied a few of the core infra- construction for an working system, however the UI layer was left as an train for the producer, ensuing in an software mannequin for telephones the place apps written for one taste of Symbian wouldn’t essentially run on another variation, even on telephones from the identical producer.

The Java programming language, identified in the server and desktop PC world as “write once, run anywhere,” might probably have supplied this sort of cross-device software functionality, however Java ME fell far wanting this in the cell area. While it did present not less than the identical language throughout gadgets (a lot as Symbian supplied the identical language of C++ for all of its implementations), Java ME addressed the vast number of kind components and architectures in telephones by offering totally different variations of the platform, referred to as profiles. These profiles had totally different capabilities, so devel- opers wanted to change their functions to run on totally different gadgets, and infrequently that strategy failed when capabilities have been drastically totally different throughout gadgets.

Linux to the rescue!… Almost. Texas Instruments (TI) supplied an open platform based mostly on the Linux OS kernel. All producers wanted was Linux itself, reference {hardware} from TI, after which an enormous host of different modules that producers had to purchase, license, construct or in any other case provide to create their very own gadget. As Brian Swetland put it, “You could use TI’s OMAP chips to build a Linux phone. So you needed TI’s OMAP and then forty com- ponents from forty different vendors of middleware. You put all these together and you integrated them all and then you’d have a Linux phone. And that was just absurd.”

TI provided a Linux-based solution, but many of the details of drivers and other components were left as an exercise to the manufacturer, which wasn’t a compelling option.
Enlarge / TI supplied a Linux-based resolution, however a lot of the particulars of drivers and different elements have been left as an train to the producer, which wasn’t a compelling choice.

Chet Haase

Android wished to present the world’s first full open handset plat- kind resolution. It can be constructed on Linux, like TI’s providing, however would additionally present all of the mandatory items in order that producers would have just one system to undertake in order to construct and ship their gadgets. Android would additionally present a single programming mannequin to software builders, in order that their apps would work the identical throughout all gadgets on which the platform ran. By having a single platform that labored throughout all gadgets utilizing it, Android would simplify telephones for each producers and builders.



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