Steve Jobs declared 'thermonuclear war' on 'stolen' Android

A new biography reveals Steve Jobs declared "thermonuclear war" against rival phone system Android.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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Apple supremo Steve Jobs was willing to commit billions of dollars to destroying Android, vowing "thermonuclear war" against the iPhone rival. A new biography of the Apple founder, who died this month, reveals his feelings about Google and Bill Gates, who he felt stole his company's ideas.

Jobs died on 5 October, aged 56. He and many friends, colleagues and rivals spoke at length to author Walter Isaacson for the officially authorised biography Steve Jobs, which was at one point lol-worthily titled iSteve: The Book of Jobs. As well as lambasting rivals who he believed cribbed his work, Jobs blasts his own company as "corrupt" during the years he didn't work for Apple.

Extracts from the book reveal Jobs considered Android to be "grand theft". He vowed, "I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40bn in the bank, to right this wrong. I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this."

Jobs had a sitdown with Google boss Eric Schmidt in a California café, where he issued an ultimatum. Jobs claimed he told Schmidt he wasn't interested in kissing and making up: "I don't want your money. If you offer me $5bn, I won't want it. I've got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that's all I want."

Jobs' strong feelings explain Apple's all-out legal war with Samsung and other Android manufacturers.

The book also lays out Jobs' less than complimentary feelings about Microsoft boss and long-time rival Bill Gates. "Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he's more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people's ideas." A cynic might suggest that's exactly what Jobs did -- he was simply better at it.

Gates is ambivalent about Jobs. The Microsoft founder, also interviewed in the book, said his Apple frenemy "never knew much about technology, but he had an amazing instinct for what works." Gates found his turtle-necked rival "fundamentally odd" and "weirdly flawed as a human being".

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson goes on sale on Monday 24 October.