Today Android is the operating system installed in 85% of mobile devices and the heart in a million-dollar industry, but there was a time when Android was just an idea, and an idea that not everyone trusted in that would succeed.
Today, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the first official version of Android, we go back to the year 2004, when Android was still in diapers. This Android, then an operating system for digital cameras, did not quite convince investors. The future of Android hung by a thread or, more specifically, $ 10,000.
The Beginnings Are Never Easy
Digital cameras were the initial destination, but back in 2004, the growth of the camera industry began to decline, so Andy Rubin recycled the idea. Five months later, Andy talked about Android as an operating system for “portable devices“.
The father of Android had been dreaming of changing the landscape of mobile devices since the year 2000. At that time the large mobile operators controlled the industry with a steel fist and a closed philosophy.
Andy Rubin was planning just the opposite: an open source operating system that anyone could modify and use at no cost. Many believed then that it was an impossible idea.
Taking into account that at that time faced giants like Nokia with Symbian or Microsoft with Windows Mobile, it is understandable the distrust of investors. According to Business Insider, an investor was of the opinion of Andy Rubin that “he would have to sell at least a million of those things to cover the expenses, he’s trying to boil the ocean.”
About To Be Kicked Out Of The Office
Without achieving the attention of investors to cover the costs, the small startup of Android, formed not only by Andy Rubin but also by Rich Miner, Nick Sears and Chris White was not going through its best moment.
The pending payments began to accumulate to such an extent that the owner of the office space began to threaten to evict them unless they were updated with the pending payments. That was when a desperate Andy Rubin made an emergency call to his friend Steve Perlman.
The Man Who Saved Android
Andy Rubin and Steve Perlman were known to have worked at Apple in the early 90s. In addition to Apple, Perlman had worked creating components for the Megadrive and Super Nintendo consoles, on WebTV (purchased by Microsoft) and since 1999 he had presided over the incubator technology companies Rearden (which is still active ).
In 2004, Steve Perlman received a call from his friend Andy Rubin. Although it was difficult for him to ask for money again, his Android startup was in trouble and he had no choice but to do so. The situation was unsustainable: cash was running out and they could not attract new investors.
Steve Perlman agreed to transfer some money as soon as he could, to which a nervous Andy Rubin responded that “if it can be sooner, better“. With several payments pending, the owner of the office was no longer working for a new delay.
It was then that Steve Perlman went to the bank, took $ 10,000 in cash in a hundred bills and gave them to Andy Rubin, who the next day was complemented by a transfer of an indeterminate amount.
With this money, Andy was able to face the pending payments and keep fighting to move his startup forward. Soon they managed to get the support of new investors, get more financing and move to a bigger office in Palo Alto (yes, next to Google).
The rest is history. A year later, in 2005, Google bought Android Inc for at least 50 million dollars and its employees became part of the great G. The project was kept secret for the most part until the creation of the first prototype based on a QWERTY keyboard. Until the iPhone came and changed the plans, but that’s a story for another time.
Ten years ago the first official and stable version of Android and about fifteen years since the founding of Android Inc and it is clear that Android has ended in many more than “one million of those things“. Android is a great success, but we can not help but think, what would have happened in the mobile landscape without that $ 10,000 loan?