Citing a developer who supposedly worked on Android, VentureBeat is reporting that Apple asked Google not to implement multi-touch technology in its Android mobile OS, and that Google, obviously, complied.
The implementation of multi-touch on the iPhone gives it a key advantage over competing phones such as the G1 and the BlackBerry Storm, and it raises the question of why Google, which has devoted a lot of resources towards the development and subsequent release of Android, decided to comply with Apple’s request.
Were they afraid of legal action? Interestingly, with all of the recent hoopla regarding the Palm Pre’s implementation of multi-touch, and whether or not Apple will take legal action against Palm because of it, Google is reportedly glad that they decided to stay on the sidelines. For one thing, they avoid the potential for costly and lengthy patent litigation with Apple. Second, and arguably more important, is the fact that Google and Apple have a strong and mutually beneficial working relationship that both sides have an interest in maintaining.
Hindsight, though, is 20-20, and it’s extremely interesting that Apple took the pro-active step to ask Google point blank not to implement multi-touch. Does this imply that perhaps Apple knew it couldn’t legally prevent Google from implementing the feature, and so it instead decided to play nice and ask them for a favor instead? There’s no way to tell, but favors aren’t typically granted in Silicon Valley for no reason. Moreover, it’s doubtful that Google, of all companies, would actively take steps to create a mobile OS with stunted functionality simply because Apple asked them to. It makes one wonder what Google possibly had to gain by heeding Apple’s request.
For all we know, though, Apple’s friendly request was more along the lines of a friendly warning, and that the threat of legal action by Apple was truly at the heart of Google’s decision to leave multi-touch out of Android. In any event, recent hacks to the G1 have shown that the device is more than capable of handling multi-touch functionality, and with the Palm Pre set to launch in a few months, the iPhone wont be the only multi-touch smartphone out on the market for much longer.
Update: John Gruber of DaringFireball published a post today that sheds some more light on the above story:
This jibes with a story I heard several months ago from a source who works at Apple, which is that Google showed Apple legal a pre-release prototype of the HTC G1, specifically to avoid patent-related disputes.
Even more interesting, though, is Gruber’s description of just how bitter the relationship between Apple and Palm is becoming, with Palm supposedly taking steps to actively lure engineers away from Apple.
What I heard last month at Macworld Expo is that Palm has a standing offer for engineers at Apple to jump ship, with a starting salary of 1.5 times their current Apple salary.
Wow. Things certainly are getting soap opera-esque in Silicon Valley. I wonder what’s next.. Mark Papermaster jumping ship to join Palm?!