One of the most popular Steve Jobs legends people like to roll out is his famous hatred for Android, with his biography saying he was willing to spend his "dying breath" trying to destroy what he claimed was a stolen product.
But did his obsession with Google's mobile OS really run that deep? Google CEO Larry Page suggests otherwise – in fact, he says Jobs' comments were mainly made just for show.
Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography has been so well dissected over the past half-year or so that there's practically no need to actually go out and buy the thing. But even by those standards, a couple of key passages about Jobs' attitude towards Android have been widely quoted – and for good reason.
“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 is quoted as saying in January 2010. “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”
And in a later meeting with Google's then-CEO Eric Schmidt over settling the dispute between the two financially: “I don’t want your money. If you offer me $5 billion, 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.”
Pretty heated stuff, but according to Google founder and CEO Larry Page, Jobs was simply showing off a public persona that was expected of him, and in private his views were far more reasoned.
“The Android differences were actually for show.” Page claims in a Bloomberg interview. “For a lot of companies, it’s useful for them to feel like they have an obvious competitor and to rally around that.
“I personally believe that it’s better to shoot higher. You don’t want to be looking at your competitors. You want to be looking at what’s possible and how to make the world better.”
Page revealed that he actually had a fairly good relationship with Jobs, and that the pair had met last year even as the Apple boss' health was seriously deteriorating.
“He was quite sick. I took it as an honor that he wanted to spend some time with me,” Page said. “I figured he wanted to spend time with his family at that point. He had a lot of interesting insights about how to run a company and that was pretty much what we discussed.”