November 12, 2007 1:25 PM PST
Newsmaker: From Danger's realm come Android's makersSee all Newsmakers
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Q: What other types of devices that aren't exactly cell phones could Android enable or run on?
Rubin: The sky is the limit. This platform has been contemplated in different devices, from car navigation systems to set-top boxes to laptop computers and, of course, cell phones. One of our alliance partners, Intel, has a category device called MID, or Mobile Internet Device, which is somewhere between a cell phone and a PC. It's a large-display device meant to be primarily an Internet access device.
Q: Will Java be the primary foundation for software running Android?
Q: What are the lessons you learned from Danger?
Rubin: I learned a lot of things.
One of the things I learned is it's getting easier and easier for people to build cell phones. In 2009, there will be single-chip cell phones, so you can go to Qualcomm and get basically a cell phone and a chip, or to Broadcom or one of the other alliance partners.
Pretty much anybody now can build a cell phone right, and I mean anybody. The big lesson I learned coming out of Danger is, let's figure out a way to take advantage of that and provide a solution for the hardest part, which is the ever-changing software component.
Q: The Sidekick became a cult hit. What limited its adoption?
Rubin: I don't think it has limited adoptions, but it's probably best to ask the folks at Danger that question. I've been out of the company for about four years now, so I feel like I'm a little out of touch.
Q: How would Android be different if you hadn't sold the company to Google?
Rubin: It would have taken me a lot longer to do what I did as a start-up company. The platform within Google has a broader chance at success. Within Google, I think we have the opportunity to pretty quickly accelerate it and push it into different areas.
Q: How have your visions of cell phones changed since the Sidekick was invented?
Rubin: The cell phone industry has so much legacy software today. One of the great things about starting from scratch is, you get to re-evaluate the importance of the legacy. And you can make decisions about which parts of it you want to support and which parts just don't make sense.
So the part that I think becomes really important is more around the heavy lifting that you can do in the cloud. ("The cloud" refers to data residing on a server on the Internet that anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can access.) Remember, the cloud didn't exist when the Internet didn't exist--when cell phones first were introduced. So that's part of the game that changed.
Q: Do you think the big U.S. carriers--AT&T and Verizon Wireless--will join the Open Handset Alliance?
Rubin: It's certainly possible. The alliance is completely open. It's not a closed thing; it's not a club. We welcome anybody. Members who wish to join the alliance actually have to contribute something, so I encourage people to join and contribute.
Q: When did the work on Android start, and why did it take until now?
Rubin: Why did it take until now? Because it was a ton of work. How often have you seen a completely new operating system come to market? It doesn't happen that often because there's just so much (required) to build an operating system these days.
Remember, Android is not just an operating system. The Alliance put everything on top of the operating system necessary to build a cell phone. We built a Web browser, and we built e-mail applications, and we built a Google Maps application.
Q: How strategically significant is the mobile market for Google?
Rubin: I would say very. There are close to 3 billion cell phones out there today. They are pervasive. They're intimate. You bring your cell phone with you wherever you go. So it has a lot of touch points in your life because it's in your pocket with you most of the time.
That is super important to Google. This is just going to be, for some people, the first way to get access to the Internet. They might not even have a PC. So it is the future.
Q: Which is more important to you: the richness of the platform or the affordability of phones the platform runs on?
Q: What do you think of the iPhone?
Rubin: I love it. I use it every day. That's my phone, and I think it's a great product. It's probably the best version 1.0 piece of consumer electronics that I've ever used.
Q: Do you think that the Android devices are going to be competing with the iPhone?
Rubin: No, I do not. I think it's a different business. Apple has a great business in building really, really high-quality consumer products, and the platform that we're building can go into a lot of different products.
Q: What have we not discussed that we should?
Rubin: I'm really proud of the team that came together to create this, both internal to Google and within the alliance. It set a precedent of cooperation.
When you build an alliance of 34 companies in an industry like the mobile industry, and you get them all to work together to produce something as functional and as high-quality as Android, it's a completely new model.
I'm really proud of the way it turned out. I'm really excited about the possibilities that open up in the industry.
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