Oracle sues Google over Android

I recall a few years back when rumors were swirling about potential buyers of Sun Microsystems. There seemed to be a consensus within the Java community that it would be better for the future of Java for Sun to be acquired by Oracle rather than IBM. Oracle had been a good participant in the JCP and didn’t have as much direct reliance on Java for their business, and thus would have less incentive to muck around with Java.

Today, however, I think much of that goodwill evaporated. According to MSNBC, Oracle is suing Google, claiming that Android violates numerous Java-related patents. I think this doesn’t bode well for the long-term outlook for Java.


Android is one of the most exciting areas in Java development today – it is standing toe-to-toe with Apple’s iOS in the hottest technology space (mobile). JavaME has been reasonably successful – more so than people often give it credit for – but it can’t compete with iOS or any of the other smartphone platforms. Without Android, Java has limited representation in the mobile market.

Frankly, I’m confused as to why Oracle is going after Google here – a consumer phone OS seems pretty far out the realm of Oracle’s normal business.


I hadn’t even thought of this until one of my co-workers pointed it out – GWT has some of the same legal issues in this case as Android and could fall into Oracle’s crosshairs as well. Oracle has been incredibly excited about JavaFX and GWT is a direct competitor in that area. Will Oracle go after GWT next?

What else?

Java is an excellent language, but it has been showing its age for some time now. Many other languages offer more advanced features and are arguably better in some areas (C# comes to mind), but the main strengths that have kept Java relevant for so long have been the JVM and the community around the platform. If Oracle goes around suing everyone in the Java community with their new IP assets, what does that mean for the community?

Ultimately, we’ll have to see how this develops and what happens – perhaps they will settle quickly, with Google paying some licensing fees and Oracle leaving everyone else alone. Or, perhaps this is just the beginning of Oracle milking every dollar they can out of the Java platform.

With this development, plus all of the high-profile departures of ex-Sun employees, I’m a little worried about the long-term future of the Java platform under the stewardship of Oracle.

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