Did Apple Coerce Google to Skip Multi-touch?

If not for an Apple intervention, Google’s G1 Android smartphone may have been a little smarter. Many people have wondered why the G1 lacks multi-touch capabilities, even though the phone has been shown to be multi-touch capable. As a legal battle between Palm and Apple wages on over Palm’s use of multi-touch in its new Pre smartphone, more details are beginning to emerge about why Google may have chosen to overlook these capabilities.

It’s no secret that Apple and Google have a bit of a relationship, considering Google's chief executive, Eric Schmidt, is on Apple's board. In addition, although the companies compete in some sectors, they have a relatively healthy financial relationship over all. Google has even tailored its maps and search products for use on the Apple iPhone. Given all of this, it’s not farfetched to think this relationship had something to do with Google choosing to forego multi-touch on the G1. In doing so, Google likely protected its relationship with Apple and avoided a lawsuit in the process.  

According to details reported on Venture Beat, the omission of multi-touch capabilities on the G1 was in fact intentional. A key Android development team member echoed these reports, stating that Apple demanded early in the development of the phone and OS that Google disable multi-touch.

If these reports are true, then the biggest question that remains is whether or not Google will continue to bend to Apple’s will or if it will go against the grain and offer multi-touch in a future smartphone. Certainly the results of the ongoing lawsuit between Apple and Palm are likely to have an effect on what Google does. If Palm wins, it would seem that Google would be more inclined to offer this in-demand feature. On the flip side, if Palm looses, it may be that much more of a reason for Google to continue to meet Apple’s demands.