Android Was Meant to Be For Cameras Before Phones

By Matthew Dougherty , Apr 17, 2013 05:32 PM EDT

Android was not originally supposed to be for you mobile phone. Instead, the operating system was to be for your digital camera.

According to Android co-founder Andy Rubin, who spoke at the Japan New Economy Summit in Tokyo, the original thought was to connect cameras to computers, dubbing them smart cameras.

But of course, the digital camera industry fell apart as the smartphone industry began to flourish. Android had to shift gears to keep up with the world.

This was back in 2004, after Rubin had already pitched the camera operating system (including wired and wireless connectivity to a home computer, then linking to an “Android Datacenter”) to investors.

"We decided digital cameras wasn't actually a big enough market,” Rubin said.

After five short months of work from Rubin’s staff, the camera operating system had morphed into one for a phone.

“The exact same platform, the exact same operating system we built for cameras, that became Android for cellphones,” Rubin said.

By the end of 2005, Google had acquired Android, and made Rubin senior vice president. Two years before Apple was even a major competitor.

"I was worried about Microsoft and I was worried about Symbian, I wasn't worried about iPhone yet,” Rubin said.

As of last month, 750 million devices have Android installed on them. The company also has just over 60 percent of the market share.

Almost a decade later, we are beginning to see what Peta Pixel is calling “smartcameras”, cameras with Wi-Fi, applications and data plans. That includes the Galaxy Camera, which runs on the Android operating system.

It appears that Rubin’s early dreams have come true.

Android has also been the operating system for TVs, tablets and kitchen appliances.

But as of March 2013, he is no longer with Android. Google announced that Rubin would be starting on something new for the company.

"I can pretty much guarantee you that whatever I do next it's going to be something that delights consumers,” Rubin said.

He still plans on creating things that are meant for end users.

Maybe Rubin’s next project will be a decade ahead of its time as well.

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