Thursday, April 26, 2012

Court documents show Google showed off first Android phone in 2006

Two years prior to the release of the T-Mobile G-1, the world's first Android-powered phone, Google showed off its first "Google Phone" to wireless carriers. The device is a portrait-mode device with a QWERTY keyboard, reminiscent of many BlackBerrys and also similar to the prototype shown in early 2008.

This information, and more, is emerging as the Oracle court case against against Google over Android and Java continues. Oracle's attorneys made note that Java is frequently mentioned across that original slide deck, which was presented to T-Mobile: "Leverage Java for its existing base of developers. Build a useful app framework (not J2ME). Support J2ME apps in compatibility mode. Provide an opTMobileized JVM (Dalvik)."

Compared to today's specs, the 2006 device specs seem laughable. As a baseline, the device would have had an ARMv9 processor running about 200MHz, GSM (3G preferred), USB support, Bluetooth 1.2, a QVGA display with at least 16-bit color support, 64MB of RAM and ROM, miniSD support, and a 2-megapixel camera with a dedicated camera shutter button.

Optional specs would have included a QWERTY keyboard, Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR, a "secondary display," wi-fi (yes, wi-fi optional), GPS, and hardware graphics acceleration.

In 2006, Google was working on a device "in three form factors," and at the time of the presentation, Google said it already had functional apps including the dialer, home screen, messaging, contacts, and an early example of a Webkit-based browser.

The company also expected that versions of Google Talk, Gmail, Calendar, MMS, POP email, and a "chat-based SMS" (which probably means a threaded messaging app) were expected by Q3 of that same year.

In addition, at the time Google expected that Android would be certified by wireless carriers between June 1st and August 31st of 2007, at which point it was to be released to manufacturers.

Instead, the first Android phone was not released until October of 2008. The first iPhone was released on June 29, 2007.

The information is interesting on many levels, including the fact that Steve Jobs always accused Android of being a stolen product, saying that he would go thermonuclear on the platform (with regard, as we have seen, to patent lawsuits). He wasn't speaking about the Oracle issue, but rather with regard to Android vs. iOS, of course.

Yet despite that, it's obvious from this information that Android was well underway before Apple released the first iPhone.

Additional court documents revealed that Google was looking to alter the structure of T-Mobile’s data plan pricing . The change would have had Google subsidize unlimited data on T-Mobile by foregoing the commission it would earn from the carrier when it passed Android buyers on to T-Mobile's online store.

It would have meant unlimited data for $9.99 a month, but of course, this never came to pass. The T-Mobile G1 was released with $25 and $35 data plans.

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