The Android operating system millions of people rely on each and every day to power their smartphones and tablets almost never was. Andy Rubin, the creator and former head of Android, revealed in a speech at the Japan New Economy Summit in Tokyo on Tuesday that the platform was originally envisioned as an operating system for smart cameras.
“The exact same platform, the exact same operating system we built for cameras, that became Android for cellphones,” Rubin said, according to PC World.
The team was looking to connect cameras, wired or wireless, to home computers and then sync photos to a cloud server, known as “Android Datacenter.” As growth in the industry slowed, however, Rubin’s company saw an opportunity in the smartphone market.
“We decided digital cameras wasn’t actually a big enough market,” he said. “I was worried about Microsoft and I was worried about Symbian, I wasn’t worried about iPhone yet.”
Rubin noted that despite decreasing hardware costs, companies such as Microsoft continued to charge the same licensing fees for its software. Android was considered to be a platform for selling other services and products, and Rubin was looking for growth rather than per-unit income.
“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,” he explained.
The Android team’s original goal was to capture 9% of the market by 2010 with its smart camera OS. As a mobile operating system, however, Android found great success and in 2012 controlled more than 60% of the market.
These days Android isn’t just limited to smartphones and tablets — the operating system is now found on TVs, refrigerators, gaming consoles and, as fate would have it, smart cameras.