An odd set of circumstances involving Apple, Meta, Google, and Business Insider led to the reveal of what could have been the first Android smartphone last week.
The tale goes like this: Business Insider published a think piece by Samantha Delouya comparing Meta’s launch of the Metaverse to Google’s development of Android. The article draws the connection by speculating that Meta is cribbing Google’s playbook to dethrone Apple as king of consumer data the same way Android overtook the iPhone as the top smartphone brand. But, according to Delouya, Meta gets it all wrong. And the launch of the Metaverse is a boondoggle that threatens to tear down the empire Mark Zukerberg has spent nearly two decades creating.
The article drew the ire of Android co-founder Rich Miner, who took to Twitter to correct some factual inaccuracies. In a Tweet thread, he pointed out that Google did not create Android but was acquired by the company to combat Apple’s control over the emerging market. As part of his debunking, he stated that Android was always working on two phones, Dream and Sooner. The Dream would become Google G1 (aka HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1), and Sooner was canceled.
Miner tweeted an image of a render of the scrapped Sooner smartphone. He stated that it was to be more Blackberry-like and was made months before Apple launched the iPhone, countering a claim in the Insider article that the original Android phone was redesigned to compete with the iPhone.
All along we were working on 2 phones, Sooner, more blackberry-like & Dream, touchscreen based. After the iPhone launch we did cancel Sooner to focus on Dream (eventually the Google G1) but its design changed little from this rendering made 5 months before the iPhone launched. pic.twitter.com/lC8m0WolgE
— Rich Miner (@richminer) October 31, 2022
The would-be first Android featured a sliding touchscreen over a physical, green QWERTY keyboard, four buttons on the chassis, and a jog wheel.
What the smartphone world would look like today if the Sooner had come to life instead of the Dream is impossible to know. However, it’s an interesting bit of tech lore that we didn’t know before. And the way the revelation came about is also fascinating to those of us who love both history and technology.