back to article Google wanted Java 'partnership' with Sun

The head of Google's Android development team, Andy Rubin, sent internal emails advising Google that the company would need to either partner with Sun or buy a licence to gain access to the parts of Java needed to make Android a success. The emails came to light in today's court proceedings, as Oracle's counsel David Boies …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do no evil?

    Strange seeing Google doing evil on the company who most people think is evil.....but then again it was against Sun who became the joke of the industry.

    I think Oracle might have even copyrighted exa-evil.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do no evil?

      Sun may not have kept their business hats firmly on their heads, but they did do some cool things and give them away for the greater good. Things like zfs, dtrace, maybe even Open Solaris. Joke or not, they weren't exactly complete amateurs when it came to good technology.

      Whatever one thinks of Oracle, at least they're suing Google. Apple chose to sue the individual manufacturers, a cowardly approach in my opinion. From this is there anything to learn about the relative merits of Oracle's and Apple's complaints?

      I would not be entirely surprised if one result of this case is Google walking away from Android. It isn't essential to their business - it was only ever meant as a means of encouraging people to use Google. They might have to start paying punitive fees to Oracle (when it could have been reasonable fees to Sun). Android is actually in quite a mess, with Google likely to cop the bad publicity coming out of any major security problems. It is not a monolithic, works-the-same-on-all-hardware-platforms either. Plus for comparison when MS lost to Sun over their flavour of Java MS walked away from it altogether - they'd got plenty of other ways of earning money. Same for Google - there's plenty of other things they could be getting on with instead.

      Given that Android was open sourced (ish) and is in wild I don't see how Google could put that particular genie back in the bottle. If Google lose this case, is that aspect likely to make the final bill rather large? Any opinions out there on that point?

      1. Martijn Bakker

        Re: Do no evil?

        Google probably can't "walk away" from Android right away. They will have obligations to handset and tablet makers. Also don't forget that Android makes money for them three ways (Android sales, mobile apps and mobile adds). Even though

        Without Google to back it, Android will quickly dwindle and fail. In mobile, every technology is patented at least thrice. Without a powerful player with an extensive patent portfolio to back it, nobody will dare to risk sell anything with Android in- or on it.

        Yes, Android would be 'out there'. A handfull of enthousiasts might continue to develop for it. But without new Android hardware, Qualcom and NVidia (who provide most of the chipsets for mobile devices and are notoriously reticent with supplying open source drivers) would have no reason to provide Android driver support.

        If Google walk away from Android then it'll be just another quaint and only partly functional "Linux for mobiles" within a year.

        That might just be enough to save RIM or even Nokia.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Do no evil?

          Maybe Google can't just walk away from Android, but could they give it away to Oracle as part of damages? Would Oracle want it?

          If Android goes to Oracle, Google will be able to say that they didn't abandon Android; and if Oracle then kills Android then Google can point the finger at Oracle.

          I'm not sure what the value of Android is to Google; as long as they can send you search results and advertising they shouldn't really care about your device.

          Android was necessary to create a smartphone market for those who can't afford, or don't want, Apple's offering; but now that market exists, it won't go away if Android disappears. Companies like Samsung will find alternatives to keep their smartphone divisions going; maybe (as suggested elsewhere) this will revive Nokia and RIM?

          1. Daf L

            Re: Do no evil?

            "Maybe Google can't just walk away from Android, but could they give it away to Oracle as part of damages?"

            What friggin' planet are you on?

            Just give away one of their most important technologies since search to a bunch of ambulance chasers that don't have a cat's hell in chance of walking away form this bogus lawsuit with anything more than their bus fare home.

            1. bazza Silver badge

              Re: Do no evil?

              @ Daf L

              "Just give away one of their most important technologies",

              Er, yes. If Google's commercial judgement is that they'd be better off without Android, they would drop it. Larry Page said in court that Android isn't critical to Google's success, and if that isn't a scene setter for an Android-less Google I don't know what is.

              They're a company with shareholders, and shareholders are remarkably unsentimental about technology that isn't earning money. If Google have contracts with the likes of Samsung, HTC, etc. that tie Google in to Android for the long term then I'd say Google's contract lawyers need sacking. I doubt this is actually the case, and I imagine that Google can just walk away from Android just like any other software vendor would.

              "to a bunch of ambulance chasers that don't have a cat's hell in chance of walking away from this bogus lawsuit with anything more than their bus fare home"

              Except that the last time someone took liberties with Java they lost in court quite soundly (Sun vs Microsoft).

              Now this particular case has not yet concluded, but the internal Google emails coming out in court aren't exactly doing Google any favours. The top echelons of Google are busily denying any knowledge of these emails (ha!), but that doesn't matter. The emails show that corporately there was awareness and an admission that Google needed a Java license. If the senior management didn't pick up on that (which is very hard to believe, they were the addressees of the emails) then they're not managing the company very well. But that doesn't get the company off the hook.

              In a sense the internal emails are a sideshow to the matter of Does Google Need A Java License (that's down to the T&Cs of the license for the public bits of Java), except that they're not exactly going to encourage the court to judge in Google's favour. Where they do matter is if the court decides that Google does need a license because the court might then conclude that Google already knew that but deliberately went to market without it. That would probably result in whatever punitive damages are consequently awarded being higher.

              1. Daf L

                Re: Do no evil?

                They don't and never had needed a licence for Java, they don't run Java.

                Just because you've read a headline on a website doesn't mean that Oracle have any sort of case to sew.

                If you had looked at any of the details of this case then you would see that Oracle are now resting their case on trying to say that APIs are copyrightable. In fact not just APIs but only these specific Java APIs, simply due to the fact that there are so many and they are arranged 'artistically' - yes it is as crazy as it sounds.

                They have already lost nearly all their patents and there is the case of the 11 files that weren't every used in Android that were in it's test environment.

                Oracle are not suing Google for not paying for a licence. They are not saying that Google should have bought a licence or that they are using Java.

                The idea that a 'simple' solution would be for Google to just give Android to Oracle to stop them being annoying is like suggesting that Apple should just give their iPAD division to Proview - after all the iPAD isn't critical to Apple's business - Absurd.

      2. Joeman
        Thumb Down

        Re: Do no evil?

        No way would Google walk away from Android! Google want control over handsets and tablets, so unless they develope a replacement for Android, they wont be walking away anytme soon.

      3. Bill Neal

        Re: Do no evil?

        If SnOracle had so many great ideas stolen by Google, where is a comparable product? where is the mobile OS? If anything Google is guilty of making a remix, and Micro$oft has done that a few times. No problem, right? I know that is oversimplifying a bit, but at least Apple actually has some working hardware & software to compare to. Should it be a crime to copy a style? (such as Samsung did) This whole debate seems largely philosophical now.

  2. wowfood

    "Boies tried to use the collective sentiment of the emails to demonstrate that Google new it was skirting the law"

    knew... not new.

    1. stanimir

      i actually sent 'em correction a bit after the article was published. el reg seems extra slow to act

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Copyrighter? Editor?

      Do you guys have one? Did he finish school? Did I?

  3. DrXym Silver badge

    I don't see the problem

    Google probably did desire a partnership with Sun but decided a better solution was to work around Java completely. The fact that Sun / Oracle's suit eventually boiled down to a few fairly inconsequential patents suggests Google did a pretty good job of it too.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: I don't see the problem

      I believe the problem (at least to Oracle) is Google thinking that because an option is "better" they can ignore the fact it's legally dubious. It's pretty clear that Google knew that this case was coming, they just figured it's US justice and they have pots of cash so it's worth a go...

    2. Paul Shirley

      Re: to work around Java completely - if only

      Their mistake was in NOT working around Java *completely*.

      We've seen a lot of horseshit about how much of the Java class lib is required by the language spec when what they really mean is the libs are so crosslinking it's near impossible to separate the actually essential elements from the bulk. However since Google were abandoning it being a Java system they could have dumped all pretence of compatibility and stripped down to minimal compatibility with Sun's Java systems.

      Instead they decided to rely on Suns own public statements about how to bypass Java licensing. It's Suns problem that compatibility with their versions of Java was necessarily lost in doing that!

      My belief is the choice to stay so compatible with Java (the language) was more determined by the need to use existing toolchains, tools that simply would not work with *any* change to the core libs. Java is that crippled by its own dependence on reflection and having so much language spec embedded in the lib structure. Most depressing is Java output is already translated to Dalvik after compilation and it would be pretty easy to remove those dependencies during that, meaning the Android libs would no longer need to match the structure of Java! So easy, expect that to be done if Oracle win.

      Expect to see a lot of time spent this week establishing that Sun operated a bait&switch scheme when pretending to open Java while binding it in a web of control. That Sun didn't pull the trigger for years, showed no sign of doing so and that it's now too late for Oracle to do it.

      1. stanimir

        Re: to work around Java completely - if only

        However since Google were abandoning it being a Java system they could have dumped all pretence of compatibility and stripped down to minimal compatibility with Sun's Java systems.

        This won't cut. The beauty of android is that you can utilize virtually any lib available (internal or external/open source, etc). Porting code from desktop (not the GUI) to Android is just adding a lib, writing communication layer between server/client is trivial if you stay in java. Since the company develops both for android/ios and desktop, I can say android development is much easier compared to iOS (besides its awkward syntax and super-extra-long function names). Having been stripped out of the core libs Android would not be so appealing, more like Java ME.

        On a side note: w/o dynamic classloading and reflection java won't be even half of what it is.

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