Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has subtley refuted the late Steve Jobs' claim that Android is a product 'stolen' from Apple.
The former Google CEO, who has been a little more loose-lipped since leaving the CEO's chair, was responding to comments Jobs made to his official biographer before he passed away last month.
Jobs had told Walter Isaacson that "Our lawsuit is saying, 'Google you f***ing ripped off the iPhone, wholesale ripped us off," speaking of writs Apple issued against leading Android handset manufacturers.
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The Apple co-founder had vowed to spend every penny Apple had in the bank in order to destory Android, saying he was willing to go "thermo-nuclear war" on the search giant.
Google a great innovator
However, speaking to reporters in South Korea, Schmidt has asserted that his company came up with the idea to create a smartphone ecosystem before the iPhone came into being.
"I've decided not to comment on what's been written on a book after his death," he said.
"Steve is a fantastic human being and someone who I miss very dearly.
"As a general comment, I think most people would agree that Google is a great innovator and I would also point out that the Android effort started before the iPhone effort."
Schmidt and Jobs, long-time pals, famously had a massive bust-up in 2006 when Jobs discovered Google's plans to launch the Android software.
Schmidt is wise not to go in too heavy here, with Jobs not around to respond any more, but his assertion is sure to stir the pot once again.