When you think of Android, a smartphone probably comes to mind. It’s the most common mobile operating system after all, powering more than 2.5 billion devices as of 2019. But did you know Android was initially intended for digital cameras?
Back in 2004, when it was still being pitched to investors (one of which was Samsung), the Android OS was envisioned as a camera platform that would use cloud storage for multimedia files. The cloud storage would both lessen the user’s dependence on the camera’s built-in storage and easily access his photos and videos across different devices.
But it was not meant to be: Android co-founder Andy Rubin and his development team realized the digital camera market had stalled while smartphone demand was beginning to skyrocket.
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Rubin and the team switched strategies and decided to design Android for smartphones. Knowing that the mobile industry was price-sensitive, they also made Android free to attract more deals with phone makers. But with all the expenses, they still needed an investor. In 2005, Google came into the picture.
Here’s another trivia: back then the Android team wasn’t worried about Apple and its iOS platform. They were actually worried more about Microsoft’s Windows Mobile and Nokia’s Symbian platforms, both of which failed to win the smartphone wars.
As to what Android could have been if it were a purely digital camera OS, who knows? But there are actual digital cameras that are powered by the Android OS as we know it, such as the Nikon Coolpix S800c and Samsung Galaxy Camera. Unfortunately, manufacturers stopped doing those and instead focused on making smartphone cameras better.