It’s hard to imagine Google’s Android OS on anything other than mobile handsets, with the OS being activated on over 1.5 million devices daily. Well, maybe it’s not so hard to imagine. Andy Rubin, one of the original masterminds behind the open source OS flashed back to the pre-smartphone days and revealed that the Android OS was originally intended for the then growing digital camera market.
“The exact same platform, the exact same operating system we built for cameras, that became Android for cell phones,” said Rubin. “We decided digital cameras wasn’t actually a big enough market, I was worried about Microsoft and I was worried about Symbian, I wasn’t worried about iPhone yet.”
PC World reported that Rubin, at a economic summit in Tokyo, showed slides from Android’s early days, circa 2004, when Android was being touted as a platform for connecting digital cameras to PCs. Google bought Android in 2005, and it wasn’t until the smartphone market started to provide competition for the digital camera market that Android was rebranded as a smartphone OS. The falling price of smartphone components revealed that other mobile OS’s were gobbling up most of the cost for units, so Rubin and company decided to make Android free to help bring the cost of mobile handsets down and get more people using the Android OS.
“We wanted as many cellphones to use Android as possible. So instead of charging $99, or $59, or $69, to Android, we gave it away for free, because we knew the industry was price sensitive,” Rubin said.
Flash back to 2013, where Android is available on a variety of different devices and flavors, and is operating on not just smartphones but tablets as well. It’s even running on a few digital cameras, such as the Samsung Galaxy Camera and Nikon’s Coolpix S800x. It seems there’s no stopping Android, and we can surely expect to see the OS come full circle and power more digital cameras in the future.