A Murky Road Ahead for Android, Despite Market Dominance

In 2005, Google bought a tiny mobile software company named Android, and almost nobody in the technology industry saw its potential — not even Eric Schmidt, Google’s chairman and then chief executive. “One day Larry and Sergey bought Android, and I didn’t even notice,” Mr. Schmidt told reporters in 2009, referring to Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google’s founders.A company spokesman later assured me that Mr. Schmidt was joking; Android reportedly cost at least $50 million, a big enough sum for the chief to get involved. But the joke suggests how little regard even Google’s executives held for Android a decade ago. Android, software that runs smartphones, tablets and a variety of other machines, was a side bet, and few considered it consequential to the search company’s fortunes.

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