Andy Rubin Responds to Jobs in Geek Speak


Oooh, this is heating up! After an investors’ call yesterday where CEO Steve Jobs felt it necessary for him to personally field questions (with the occasion being this is Apple’s first $20 billion quarter), we learned he said some nice things and some not so nice things about Android and Google as a whole. Andy Rubin – the father of Android – apparently doesn’t take too kindly to his sentiments.

Assuming this Twitter account is not a fake, Rubin decided to respond in the only way an original Android developer would know how: by showing him how easy it is to compile Android from source.


It does a peachy job of bringing a lone tear to my eye. Folks need to realize that Android is open in ways that everyone doesn’t see. Even Steve Jobs himself is confused, as he says Android’s “openness” is compromised by the unfortunate effects of fragmentation brought on by carrier and manufacturer customizations. If Android weren’t open, Jobs, why would Google allow the use of the operating system however anyone sees fit to their personal and business needs? Sure, the end-users might end up with a device that isn’t open to customization and “hackage” for them, but at that point it’s up to them to vote with their wallets. (And who’s stopping unsatisfied users from building their own devices and applying the software how they see fit? That’s unlikely, but still possible.)

And are you trying to say that everything needs to look and feel the same across the board? This is what a lot of users don’t like about the iPhone, and even when we’re just talking about stock Android, it gives us way more freedom to make our devices our own through the advent of flexible, extensible software. I think Jobs needs to revisit the Open Source Initiative’s website to brush up on his knowledge before speaking out about it. Then again, he’s a billionaire. He doesn’t need to do anything. Eh.

[via TechCrunch]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Jobs thinks he is the s***. I think he needs to relized that his products are not such a godsend and try to be a little more flexible.

  2. Jobs talks of Google casting smoke screens when he is the one casting the smoke screens by placating the fact Android is open. Jobs’ sense of open is like most things Apple, and is not the norm.

  3. Thank god someone pointed out that open means open source and android is licened under the gpl and apache license. I think steve jobs knows this but is trying to confuse a non-technical audience by pretending he doesn’t .

  4. I agree. Jobs is an arrogant asshole. I love Android but I’m also a realist. I’m worried that if Verizon does in fact get an iPhone it will seriously hurt the Android movement. Why? Because Verizon has been the biggest promoter of Android, and not just any crap Android handsets, they’ve backed the best (i.e. Motorola Droid line, HTC Incredible, etc). Verizon is about who can put the most money in their pockets. Android has actually hurt Verizon from the bundled app standpoint. Who the hell uses VZ Navigator for a fee when you have Google Navigation? Download music from VCast for a fee, or find the right app and get it for free? I work with a number of people who want an iPhone but “settled” for Android because they stand behind Verizon’s service. Who what happens if the iPhone becomes Verizon’s baby? I actually wanted AT&T to keep their exclusivity with the iPhone to keep Verizon and Android makers pumping hardcore better than iPhone equipment. At the end of the day, Android will always be successful because it does offer varying form factors, varying specs, and different overlays keeping your average Joe happy. But Google does need to work on the simplicity aspect, not for us power users but for average Joes (like my wife) who frequently needs help doing basic tasks on her Samsung Galaxy S (on Sprint).

    I hope Motorola and Google sweeten the pot for Verizon I’d hate to see Android fall on the back burner if Verizon gets an iPhone.

  5. Jobs doesn’t have a clue what open is !! We started talking about Windows when he said open ! This is really incredible that he can be so closed minded sometimes

  6. For most people, what Jobs said is correct as well.

    For the rank and file smartphone users out there, Android isn’t any more “open” than iOS. It’s customizable, you have more hardware choices, and you can (mostly) install any app you want. But, at the end of the day, it’s still “closed” in some ways – by the device manufacturers (Sense, Motoblur, locked bootloaders) and by the carriers (pre-installed software you can’t delete, no side loading).

    Yes, you can install ADW or Launcherpro, but you can’t get rid of Sense or Motoblur without rooting – and most people have no desire to go that route. You can also jailbreak an iPhone, but, once again, most people don’t want to do that.

    By the way, I’ve used an iPhone since September 2007 and just ordered a Droid X. I’m no Apple fanboy – I just see that both platforms are good and, for some people, iOS is the better choice. For many others, Android is the better choice. It’s not a big deal – they’re just phones.

  7. Thanks Andy, I’m gonna go try this on my DX. Oh wait.

  8. They’re NOT just phones. They are multi use devices that can ALSO make phone calls. To simplify what we have now as just phones is absurd.

  9. Okay, they’re just “multi-use devices that can ALSO make phone calls”. My point was that individuals are getting way too worked up about the gadgets they are using. Some people like iPhones, some people like Android devices. It really doesn’t matter to me.

  10. Also, Hindu, you illustrate my greater point. You were more bothered by the fact that I made a faux pas and referred to these devices as “just phones” than with what I had to say about them.

  11. You missed the point. Jobs is disseminating spurious rhetoric regarding the fragmentation on the Android OS.

    Ironic that one of the most famous Superbowl commercials was Apple’s ad for the Mac and the message was break away from the oppressive big blue and their control…..Now we see Jobs doing this with total control over the OS of the iPhone and his attempts to discredit a competing OS.

  12. Is Jobs correct? He highlighted most of the reasons I jumped ship to Android. Since I got my HTC Desire I’ve never been happier with a phone (Sense was okay, I could’ve lived with it, but I like what Cyanogen does with his mods, so I rooted and moved onwards and upwards).

    Fragmentation is a red-herring…. the operating system just allows a phone manufacturer to build on a base. For most users (including the lady who sits next to me) they dont even know they can upgrade the software on their phone. If you’re that worried you root and get the latest ROM.

    Average Joes go for iPhone because they dont know anything else exists in the phonesphere. iPeople are shocked when they see I can do things with my Desire that they assumed only happened on an iPhone. This is where some perspective is required!

    Apple sets the standard and makes things acceptable – the iPhone 4 seems to be the least innovative device for some time. The 3GS set standards and now the iPad is doing the same for tablets – Android will improve and bearing in mind the head start Apple had with its products the competition is right on their heals.

    We’re enthusiasts and we like phones – if we’re not we shouldn’t be on here commenting. And I’m not impressed by shiney things or the fact my next door neighbour has an iPhone 4 and an iPad …. nowadays it just makes me wonder why!?

  13. Average Android users are smarter than average iphone users. Enough said

  14. Absolutely beautiful response, definitely made me smile

  15. Fragmentation argument is such BS. People will buy the phone that they like with the functions that they want. If you like SenseUI, buy a HTC phone. If you like motoblur, buy a Motorola phone. Not every app is going to work on every phone due to the different hardware specs and that is the choice of the buyer. The buyer can refuse to pay the extra money for a front facing camera if they don’t care about it by choosing a phone that does not have one. Most people are not going to root their android phone like most apple zombies don’t jailbreak their phones. Apple tells people that they have to submit to the vision of what steve jobs thinks the phone should be. Android phones give buyers options and lets the buyer choose what they want it to be. That openness and fragmentation is a positive, jobs just drinks too much of his own kool-aid.

  16. @ Darren Chapman

    YES! I agree totally. We need more sensible thinkers like you who do not just call Apple stupid but make appropriate points in well thought-out manners.

    Whenever I see someone with an iDevice, I too wonder why…

  17. Competition is good.

    Fragmentation is not so good. When a good phone goes end of life, like the T-Mobile G1, and you are stuck on 1.6, it is nice at least for now that we can root it and install Cyanogen and be at 2.2. It’s like a new phone without buying a new phone.

    Vendors should voluntarily update their phones for 2 years worth of OS, if not longer.

  18. Open = consumer choice. If I happen to like the iOS experience, I have to go to AT&T/Apple, one phone, one carrier. If I prefer the Android experience, I have multiple choices of phone manufacturers with different options and can go with whichever carrier I want.

  19. @Jeff It is more about preference…it really does matter. If Apple were to get the market share of something like Windows, it would kill competition and everyone would only have ONE phone to choose from. It would be an OS and hardware monopoly in one. That only leads to things like what happened with Internet Explorer…no innovation for many, many years. That is why it is important that Apple doesn’t stay on top. That is why it is important that we remind people that there is an open alternative.

  20. One more thing. This reminds me of one of the few mistakes Henry Ford made early on by saying “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.” Would anyone argue that a “fragmented” car market is bad? That competition is bad?

    Steve Jobs things people will get confused because there are different models that look different and do different things? That is like saying someone in the USA driving an automatic Toyota Sedan is going to get confused because someone in Europe driving on the wrong side of the road in a motorcycle. For the customer, the only thing that matters is your own device….what someone else bought has no bearing. It does matter a little for developers, but it is easier for us to make our apps work on difference devices than it is for a tire maker to make tires for all possible cars.

    If it was up to Steve Jobs there would only be one car to choose from…and it would probably be white. That’s not to say that the iPhone won’t continue selling well (just like Henry Ford sold a lot of black cars), but luckily it’ll never have the kind of market share that something like Windows was able to achieve.

  21. If you think about it, Jobs does make sense. Is he right on all point? No, but he does make some value arguments. The problem is most of us here are not average user. But to the average user who are not any smarter or dumber because they have an iphone or an android phone, it come down to simplicity and at the end of the day making a phone call on the phone that is bought. Reason I and my company abandon ATT and iphone is because living in nyc, we can’t make a freaking phone call without interruption, or use the phone to surf to get anything done and pricing. But when it comes down to it, it not what OS or brand it is the user experience and apple seem to get that right. That is from my experience, most people if giving the choice will probably choose iphone. How I know? Because I run the tech department for our small business and I always get asked and go with friends and family when I can to help them pick a phone and most like an iphone better after trying out all the android,BB,Webos phone. But many of them ended up getting an android for 2 reason to me, they don’t like att serive and pricing and because iphone is not on tmobile,vz or sprint. This is reality, once iphone is more available I would like to see where android stands.
    I just bought a G2 for my brother and had to spend days convincing him to get it because he was dead set on iphone. Because it is faster and more responsive and he couldn’t care less about the specs, apps or customizing it. While some spend hours fixing their screen and app for hours every week and is never happy because the next person android has something they want or does something they want their phone to do, then get upset cause it’s an htc,samsung,moto etc. Fragmentation good? Tell it to these users. As for this example, he just want an iphone because it was easy to use and he felt comfortable with it. Took the G2 because I promise him an iphone once, if ever, it is available on tmobile.
    There are options and before anyone start bashing the competition maybe research and actually use both devices for awhile before speaking out. Which I am sure most here have all the latest tech goodies, but the bias and ignorant sometimes display on these site amazes me.

  22. Engadget just posted this tweet from tweetdeck commenting on jobs comment about how they had trouble developing for Android. Very funny! haha

  23. Stevo says that people will be happier with an Iphone because all Iphones look the same. WOW. That’s an amazing statement coming from the guy/company that ran the 1984 ad. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely….

  24. Be ashamed Andy Rubin, it’s a year that I’M WAITING FOR AN UPDATE !!!
    You have to learn something about customer satisfaction…

  25. @mat that isn’t andy’s fault. Try bashing your phone company next time.

  26. Biggest issue I take with Andy Rubin is his comment that the world doesn’t need another phone OS. Coming from a guy that preach open source and innovation that comment was very closed minded and counterproductive. Competition drives innovation or have Andy forgotten. Like google “don’t be evil,” guess that concept is lost now.

  27. Many people like android simply because there are physical keyboard options that don’t sacrifice on specs.

  28. Holy crap $20 billion quarter with a “B”. Apple sure knows how to fleece the sheep.

  29. I think the issue is that ‘open’ is an increasingly overloaded term, and as a result the definition of ‘open’ is somewhat nebulous.

    Would you call a phone with a locked-down bootloader ‘open’? There’s probably lots of people who’d say no… but we have the Droid X over here in the Android camp. And Android’s open, isn’t it?

    Would you call a phone that restricts you to one specific method of installing apps ‘open’? Probably not… but AT&T’s disabled sideloading on some Android handsets, despite the openness. Sure, you can root them to get around that, but you can jailbreak an iPhone, too.

    The problem is that depending on how you define ‘open,’ Jobs can be right or wrong. If you mean ‘open’ as in ‘the consumer can do whatever they want with the phone without having to modify it,’ there are demonstrably plenty of Android-based phones that aren’t what anyone would consider ‘open’ (without rooting), and Jobs may have a point. If you mean ‘open’ as in ‘there is a freely available source tree which anyone can check out and play with,’ then Android’s certainly open… but that available source tree doesn’t necessarily mean much to the AT&T user who finds they can’t install something outside the market, despite everything they read about Android being ‘open.’

    We developers love that we can muck about with the Android source code, but that’s less important to the average consumer. Where Android is primarily open is to the licensee; HTC can make any changes they want to Android and re-ship it, as can Motorola, as can whoever else. And this is good; some neat things come from those branches. However, that is also bad in other ways, such as when we have those licensees and carriers make modifications which violate the /spirit/ of ‘open’ that we like to herald in Android.

    (AT&T, I’m looking at you here.)

  30. Also, somewhat off-topic… can someone fix the comments-eat-all-spacing issue? Those of us who actually like separating posts out into paragraphs end up writing giant run-on walls of text as the empty lines get eaten. I know this has been commented on before… ;P

  31. Rubin’s tweet was probably the creepiest tweet of all time, if not the most completely irrelevant and most far removed from the interests of most people. Mr. Totally Boring Rubin.

  32. @KDroidX wrote on October 19, 2010

    About updates:
    with Apple no problem at all…
    with Android is like wining the lottery!

  33. @Rachel wrote on October 19, 2010

    The problem with your line of argument Rachel is that Android isn’t any less open for the closemindedness of Motorola or AT&T. In fact it just makes a good argument against those manufacturers or carriers that have consumer un-friendly practices.

    What makes Android open is the fact that you can choose NOT to buy a phone that is closed off to you. You have a choice. A choice of manufacturer. A choice of Carrier. A choice of how you use your phone. A choice of what you have on your phone. Choices that largely are not available or are limited on iPhone devices, at least within the U.S.

  34. Jeff comment 7 made some good/valid points. Well said sir!

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