Steve Jobs really was mad about Android, says biographer

Despite claims from Google's Larry Page that Jobs' anger over Android was more for show, biographer Walter Isaacson says the hate was real.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read
Steve Jobs unveils iPhone, January 2007
Steve Jobs unveils the iPhone in January 2007. Declan McCullagh/CNET

The late Steve Jobs really was irate with Google for stealing the iPhone's thunder, according to his biographer.

Speaking last night at the Royal Institution in Great Britain, "Steve Jobs" author Walter Isaacson laid out the scenario under which Jobs' anger toward Android unfurled.

As described by MacWorld, Jobs was upset back in the old days when Bill Gates adopted Apple's graphical user interface for Windows and then licensed the OS to Dell, IBM, and a slew of other PC makers, giving Microsoft dominance in the PC market.

The late Apple chief then watched as history repeated itself, again getting upset when the iPod and other Apple devices were "almost copied verbatim by Android," Isaacson explained. "And then they licence it around promiscuously. And then Android starts surpassing Apple in market share, and this totally infuriated him," the author added. "It wasn't a matter of money. [Jobs] said: 'You can't pay me off, I'm here to destroy you.'"

Isaacson's take contradicts comments made by Google CEO Larry Page this week. Speaking with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Page claimed that the anger Jobs expressed over Android was all for public show and that he and the late Apple chief actually maintained a cordial relationship.

But Jobs certainly didn't hold back on his feelings when he spoke with Isaacson for the book.

"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," Jobs told his biographer. "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this."

Jobs' vendetta against Android is alive and well today in the form of the bevy of patent suits being traded between Apple and various Android device makers.

Apple has been embroiled in legal battles with Motorola, Samsung, and HTC, but the ultimate target has remained Google.

However, Jobs' intense anger apparently isn't shared by current CEO Tim Cook. Chiming in on the lawsuits, Isaacson expressed his belief that Cook will settle them.

A recent Bloomberg story came to the same conclusion, quoting a source who said that "Apple CEO Tim Cook does not seem to share his predecessor's passion about laying all foes to waste. Cook appears to view litigation as a necessary evil, not a vehicle of cosmic revenge." In particular, Apple and Samsung seem to be trying to make peace, with top executives from the two companies reportedly discussing how to settle their respective lawsuits.

Disclosure: The biography "Steve Jobs" is published by Simon & Schuster, which is owned by CBS. CNET News is published by CBS Interactive, a unit of CBS.