Apple to license Google’s Android operating system
April 1st, 2011
Daniel Eran Dilger
Apple has announced plans to license Google’s Android operating system, outlining details of the new initiative in a blog post by Steve Jobs entitled “Thoughts on Google.”
The Android Exception
“Android will give Apple an important defense to critics in the market,” Jobs wrote. “As an Android licensee, Apple won’t have to deal with critics complaining about missing features or people like Brett Arends concocting stories about how the real price of an Apple product is the price you would pay, multiplied by decades of compounded interest if you had invested that money in the stock market instead.”
Jobs said Apple’s new status as an Android licensee makes the company “bulletproof” and “essentially above criticism, the law, or reality.” No one has dared to offer any sort of realistic appraisal of Google’s Android OS since its inception, even as the search giant’s other projects crumbled into ignominy, including Answers, Base, Buzz, Catalogs, Dodgeball, GOOG-411, Jaiku, Knol, Lively, Notebook, Orkut, Page Creator, Print Ads, Sidewiki, the Nexus One, Google Video, and Wave.
With Android, Apple joins the ranks of such tech industry luminaries as Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and HTC, none of which have been been accorded the scorn they deserve for delivering third rate products with cheap deigns, poorly integrated software, features that simply don’t work at all and operating system updates that can’t seem to make it to customers within six months or more, if ever.
“Now, rather than our success being judged in contrast to all the composite sales numbers of Android licensees combined, and our technology being compared with every individual feature on each Android device ever sold,” Jobs explained, “Apple will leap to the front of the Android ecosystem, leaving even the fairly good products of Samsung looking like complete crap, at least when fairly positioned on a level playing field with what we are producing.”
Not good news for Android apps
When asked how soon Apple’s new use of Android is expected to turn around the dismal lack of third party software for the Android platform, Jobs rolled his eyes and deferred the question to Apple’s chief operations officer Tim Cook.
“Are you kidding?” Cook asked. “We’re not replacing of iOS if that’s what you’re thinking. Why would we throw away a third of a billion apps and a real software market to join the Android ecosystem and get nothing but ringtones, wallpapers and malware? Are you nuts?”
Scott Forstall, the head of Apple’s iOS, noted that Apple had no plans to modify its existing iOS plans for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and the larger “iPod play” the company will release this fall as a game console to obliterate the remains of mobile competition from Nintendo and Sony.
“What we are announcing is our plans to license Android,” Forstall explained. “We will be using it to deliver reference designs for embedded devices that can be built by third parties. On top of Android, we will be delivering a new product called Apple iMiddleware.”
Jobs noted that LG, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba and Pioneer had already signed up to build a variety of TV, stereo, and other appliances that will incorporate the new Android-based embedded computers. On top, iMiddleware will host Apple-developed services that interact with iTunes and iOS devices, including AirPlay for media streaming and AirPrint for creating hardcopy documents.
Most devices running iMiddleware will also provide an embedded, Bonjour-discoverable web server that will automatically pop up in Safari or the mobile Safari web browser, allowing users to sense nearby appliances that expose a web-based user interface for mobile users. The web service will also support WebDAV for file sharing with Mac or iOS devices, as well as support for Lion’s new AirDrop feature for simplistic file sharing without any need for network configuration.
Embedded Android appliances running iMiddleware will also support Apple’s centralized profile management tools in Mac OS X Lion Server, allowing users to remotely configure, manage and secure their HDTV, microwave, car, home security system, and any children equipped with a iKid module.
“We’re using Android for this because we don’t have any desire to manage the core kernel of our iOS as an open source program,” Forstall said. “Imagine what a mess that would be to try to get all these corporate bureaucracies to work with us on delivering a single OS kernel that supports all of their individual needs. What a headache that would be to manage.
”Android is already a mess, so it’s a perfect fit. Just like Google, we expect everyone else to do all the work while we benefit from our thin layer of proprietary software on top. Think of iMiddleware as the ‘with Apple’ of Android.“
Google says Apple’s licensing deal was ”quite smooth“
”As an innovator, Google could not be more pleased to welcome Apple to the Android Open Handset Alliance,“ stated Google’s existing chief executive Eric Schmidt, who holds the post for another three days.
”Even though we are aware that they will only be using Android to further their own needs, and will not actually be building handsets, it’s still gratifying to see that after attempting to steal all of the value of that company when I served it as a board member, its management is still smart enough to turn the tables on us and use the open source project we are carrying to build out their own self-serving product. I am humbled.“
Devices running iMiddleware are not compatible with Android 2.x apps or the 20 titles available for Android 3.x Honeycomb. Instead, iMiddleware will consume all the available resources of the embedded device using Apple’s RAM hungry Safari technology. ”There simply won’t be any resources available for anything else,“ Forstall said. ”It will be like a Windows PC running iTunes.“
Jobs explained that he has been plotting his strategy for screwing over Google ever since he discovered that the company had set out to destroy Apple’s iPhone by giving a free mobile operating system to China. ”I’ve devoted a lot of time and effort into this plan,“ Jobs wrote in his annual blog post. ”I think I’ve lost 50 pounds just stressing about it.“
Jobs’ weight loss had earlier been attributed to an alien abduction by reporters at the National Enquirer.