Thursday, November 4, 2010

Google Will Buy Java

The ongoing face off between Oracle and Google over the use of Java on the Android operating system seems to be making headlines, with many christening Oracle as an evil organization. If you may recall, Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems earlier this year, taking over control of Sun's hardware and software divisions. This acquisition was not well embraced by many including the Java developer community and partners, as well as some of Sun's top engineers that left the company recently, including Jon Gosling, the father of Java.

Oracle's major interest in the acquisition was Sun's much coveted hardware line that boasts of a powerful SPARC processor architecture and their advanced server technology. Oracle specializes in database management systems and ERP software, a clear indication that Sun's hardware products fit perfectly in their core line of business.

So why then, did Oracle sue Google for patent infringement over the use of Java on the Android operating system ? Sun's software line consists of several UNIX systems including the stable Sun Solaris operating system, and many open source platforms like the Java platform. Many of their software products are free and open source, hence they don't really make a lot of money. The Java platform is patented under the GNU General Public License Version 2 (GPL v2), which has some restrictions on using patents. Some of these patents are licensed to Sun, and Oracle claims that Google infringed on them without a license.

Since Oracle does not seem to advocate for open source development and does not seem to care about the fate of the Java language, they will find it easier to hold Google at ransom and indirectly force them to buy Java at a very high cost, or share revenues derived from the Android platform. Google will most likely opt for the latter because the Android platform is performing pretty well. Eric Schmidt, Google CEO stated earlier that Android could easily net a cool $10 billion in annual revenue. Google would therefore not be willing to share revenue with Oracle over the next ten years.

So what will Oracle achieve ? Oracle, in the end will kill two birds with one stone. Sell off Java at a hefty price, while retaining Sun's hardware division which was their major interest in Sun Microsystems.

Larry Elison is a smart businessman. I wonder why Google didn't see this coming and acquire Sun and take control of Java, than have it sold to them at ransom !


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