We Android users are generally pretty pleased with our choice of mobile operating system, particularly when comparing our phones with those of the iOS crowd. A lot of iOS 8’s newest features have been in Android for a while now. Still, there’s one feature that iPhones have that Android phones can only dream about: the fingerprint sensor for unlocking. And, as it turns out, they would’ve appeared on last year’s Nexus 6 if it weren’t for Apple being one step ahead.
A Telegraph interview with former Motorola executive (and current Dropbox COO) Dennis Woodside spills the beans: the Nexus 6’s Motorola-logo’d “dimple” on the back was supposed to feature more than just branding.
“The secret behind that is that it was supposed to be fingerprint recognition,” says Woodside,” and Apple bought the best supplier. So the second best supplier was the only one available to everyone else in the industry and they weren’t there yet.”
This is a relatively small snapshot of the smartphone industry at large, but Woodside’s revelation has big implications. In short: Apple and Samsung and Motorola and all the rest offer all kinds of goodies in their smartphones, but I would be that very few of them are actually made in-house. You may love Apple’s fingerprint sensor, but the only reason that your iPhone features such cool tech is because Tim Cook opened his wallet and bought the company – thus ensuring that the competition didn’t have the ability to, well, compete.
Succeeding in tech is one part “innovation,” one part “vision,” and one huge part “wallet.” Sure, a fingerprint sensor on the Nexus 6 wouldn’t have made much difference one way or the other, but now it’s a feature that’s simply not going to be available to anyone besides Apple until the rest of the suppliers catch up. It’s interesting to think about what other technological wonders are and aren’t available to OEMs as smaller companies are snapped up left and right.