September 2, 2014

From Dream to Prototype...

When Andy Rubin demoed the first working Android model to a BBC reporter back in late February, he described it as:  “a reference design one of our partners built for us”.

Here it is:

Android reference design

Looks awfully familiar, no?

And, when the BBC reporter mentioned that not all Android phones would have touchscreens, Andy commented:

…since this is a reference design we’ve also included a track ball here, so as you can see I can still move around the webpage without touching the screen…

[Check out the interview and transcript (courtesy of Phandroid)]:  Andy Rubin’s Android Demo

So, the device is blocky and oblong and shapeless because it’s a reference design.  And it has that “chin”, which houses the buttons and trackball, because it’s a reference design.  And, of course, the reference design hardware is meant to be functional and to give the developers multiple ways of controlling the device, for testing all aspects of software.  So far so good.

Then, in June, there are reports that Android could be delayed until 2009.

Then, August 18th, the device hits the FCC, and for one day a detailed sketch (“chin” included) lives on their website:

FCC docs

One day later, HTC files a Supercede Letter with the FCC and declares that the drawings are “too detailed” and need to be replaced.  The new drawing shows only the label and device dimensions.

Then, over the past few weeks we got a blurry Darth Vader video, even more detailed engineering sketches, and most recently clear pictures — all showing the same thing:

— THE ANDY RUBIN PROTOTYPE —

Now, we know HTC is capable of some amazing designs, from the Diamond to the Touch Pro, to the semi-vaporware but gorgeous Xperia:

So, how did Google, HTC, and T-Mobile apparently decide to launch their functional, blocky, engineering prototype as the G1?

  • Was launching the reference design the only way to hit the Q4 target?
  • Or, are all these documents, pictures, and videos, just confirmation of the Andy Rubin prototype and not indicative of the final product?
  • But perhaps most realistically — if this is in fact reference design hardware, would you still buy it to be among the first to run free with Android??