Oracles case against Google is nothing less than a fight for relevance in the hottest sectors of the embedded market.
It’s about Android Phones today but it’ll be about Android Pads and Android TVs and Android eReaders tomorrow. All of those will be able to run applications written in Java but as things are today Oracle stands to make nothing from any of those devices.
When I went looking a while back to see if there was a Spring Framework Micro Edition for the development of applications on Android what I found instead was Dalvik, Androids Virtual Machine which really isn’t a Java Virtual Machine at all.
What Dalvik appears to do is take your Java program files modify them to bring the resource requirements down and then convert them into a Dalvik specific set of instructions. So lines of Java code go in but it isn’t Java Bytecode that gets executed, it’s Dalvik specific Bytecode on a Dalvik VM.
Your Java application becomes a Dalvik application at run time.
For Google this is great. They don’t have to pay any license fees but they get to tap all the Java developers out there. Oracle aren’t pleased that this could mean they’ve been handed their hat in the embedded space so they’ve gone after Google citing patent infringement. This is Oracle looking to be dealt back into the Android game. And the Android game is one of the fastest growing embedded games around.
The Oracle lawsuit looks like a strong move when looked at as an act of Java stewardship. But if you consider that Android is starting to show up in a whole host of devices, none of them kicking up any money to Oracle, you quickly see that it’s a last ditch defensive move designed to stop ongoing embedded Java revenue erosion. Every time a manufacturer who has been shipping Java chooses Android Oracle loses a revenue source.
I don’t read patents, you probably shouldn’t either but if Oracle lose this case due to a weakness in those patents they’ll watch as their embedded Java licensing revenue (A Billion Dollar business) vaporizes in front of them.
People have asked if Larry the Java Tax Collector might file suits against other parts of the Java ecosystem. Possibly, but I don’t see a similar threat from anyone in the desktop or server space.
And we’ve been here before. Back in 1998 while the Desktop and Enterprise vendors, except Microsoft, were moving in Java lockstep with Sun, HP had a Google moment and decided Suns embedded license wasn’t to their taste and the Sun embedded JVM was too bloated for their needs. Their answer was ChaiVM, a HP developed (This was back when HP used to have an R&D budget and not a piggybank for Mark Hurd) Virtual Machine to execute Java applications.
Chai was aimed squarely at embedded systems and had two aspects to it. One was to modify the Java code to bring the resource requirements down and the other was to convert the Java code into what they called a concentrated form using a patented technology known as FreezeDry.
So your Java Application became a Chai application at run time.
It seems that there’s never any new disputes in this business. Just modifications to old ones.