Steve Jobs’ tirade about how he was going to see off Android hit the headlines when it appeared in Walter Isaacson’s biography of the late Apple co-founder last year.
Considering Google’s mobile operating system to be “a stolen product,” Jobs told the writer: “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong.”
And just in case he wasn’t being clear enough, he added: “I’m going to destroy Android….I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”
During his rant, Isaacson said Jobs “became angrier than I had ever seen him.”
It was Jobs’ belief that elements of the Android operating system, which now powers more than half of all US smartphones, had been lifted from Apple’s iOS mobile platform.
In an interview this week with Larry Page, the Google co-founder and CEO said he believed that Jobs’ rant wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
“I think the Android differences were actually for show,” he told Bloomberg in a wide-ranging discussion about his first year in charge of the web giant after taking over from Eric Schmidt.
Page said it was his opinion that Jobs was using the standpoint to motivate his own team.
“I think that served their interests,” he said. “For a lot of companies, it’s useful for them to feel like they have an obvious competitor and to rally around that.”
Explaining how he would do things differently, Page said, ”I personally believe that it’s better to shoot higher. You don’t want to be looking at your competitors. You want to be looking at what’s possible and how to make the world better.”
While Jobs may well have been upset about Android, the degree of that anger is open to debate. Page may well be right — it could simply have been Jobs the master manipulator at work.
In the Bloomberg interview, Page also talked about how he met Jobs last year as the then Apple boss battled with illness, though the encounter didn’t involve a dressing down from Jobs.
“Curiously enough, actually, he requested that meeting,” Page said. “He sent me an e-mail and said: ‘Hey, you want to get together and chat?’ I said, ‘Sure, I’ll come over.’ And we had a very nice talk. We always did when we had a discussion generally.
“He was quite sick. I took it as an honor that he wanted to spend some time with me,” Google’ s CEO said.
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