The Apple Man Behind the Google Phone

Googleis Android OS for mobile phones is poised to challenge Microsoftis assertion that open source can imitate but not innovate. In fact, the man behind Android is a former Apple and General Magic employee, Andy Rubin, according to John Markoff at the New York Times on Tuesday.

There is a lot at stake as the mobile phone morphs into the mobile personal computer and standards are set. The way Google plans to stay ahead in the game is to give its software away and then cash "in by providing a menu of services linked to those products, such as email, photos, and news," Mr. Markoff wrote.

The man behind Googleis effort to muscle its way into this emerging business of mobile Internet anywhere is hardware and software genius Andy Rubin. Mr. Rubin has had a vision for portable Internet communications early on and has walked the halls of Carl Zeiss, Apple, Danger, Inc., General Magic, Artemis Research (which became WebTV), and Microsoft for a short period after they bought WebTV.

In 2002, Larry Page and Sergey Brin attended a presentation at Stanford where Rubin was demonstrating a small device, the Sidekick, an Internet savvy smartphone that had not obtained any traction in the market place. However, later, after years of work, Rubin once again encountered Google. This time, Google bought Android for an undisclosed sum.

Mr. Rubinis genius with hardware and gadgets is legendary. More important for Google, however, right now is the future of Google in the wireless market. Mr. Markoff suggests that Google is now in a position to do to Microsoft what Microsoft did to Netscape. "...Google, though not in a dominant position in this field, may be able to replay the strategy that Microsoft itself used to bulldoze Netscape in the mid-1990s. Just as Microsoft successfully cut off Netscapeis air supply by giving away its Explorer Web browser as part of the Windows operating system, Google may shove Windows Mobile aside if the Google Phone is given away to hand-set makers.

"And if the strategy works, it will be because a robotics fanatic named Andy Rubin and his team will have successfully developed the smart phone of the future," Mr. Markoff concluded.