Google’s Blast From The Past: The Android That Could Have Been


Google currently finds itself in the middle of yet another lawsuit, this time locking horns with Oracle over Java licensing issues. While this sort of thing is normally just a nightmare for everyone involved, it turns out there’s been something quite interesting to come out of the proceedings this time around, giving us a peek into the Android that could have been.

Remember back when Google had its first Android prototype to show off? The very BlackBerry-looking handset appeared to have little in common with the mainly-slate Androids that we’ve come to know since then, but we never really got to learn that much about it. Thanks to this case, though, Google’s entered some documentation on its prototype Android into the court’s record, offering us a unique look at this slice of history.

The kind of hardware Google was looking at back in 2006 for initial Android devices hardly even sounds like phone specs anymore; with 200MHz processors and 64MB of RAM, this wouldn’t even cut it for an Android-powered wristwatch these days. Purely from a design standpoint, we’ve come a long way from these early concepts. It looks like Google was all over the place, alternating between overly smoothed-out designs and those with some sharp-looking harsh edges.

Even the Android business model has changed greatly from what Google envisioned in these early days. Documents reveal it was thinking about having T-Mobile (which ultimately helped launch the G1) offer subscribers cheap $10 unlimited data plans, which it would help subsidize by not charging the carrier to direct phone sales its way.

We wonder if Google has any other secrets form Android’s past that the rest of this trial will bring to light.

Update: There’s also now some low-res imagery of how Android itself looked that’s become available.


Source: The Verge

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About The Author
Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bits Read more about Stephen Schenck!