Google and Oracle present closing arguments in battle over Java

oracle v google Attorneys for Oracle and Google presented their closing arguments today in a lawsuit over Google’s use of Java APIs owned by Oracle in Android. Oracle accused Google of stealing a collection of APIs, while Google suggested that Android transformed the smartphone market and Oracle sued out of desperation when its own smartphone attempts failed to launch. The case is expected to have… Read More
Android – TechCrunch

Google and Oracle present closing arguments in battle over Java

oracle v google Attorneys for Oracle and Google presented their closing arguments today in a lawsuit over Google’s use of Java APIs owned by Oracle in Android. Oracle accused Google of stealing a collection of APIs, while Google suggested that Android transformed the smartphone market and Oracle sued out of desperation when its own smartphone attempts failed to launch. The case is expected to have… Read More
Android – TechCrunch

Oracle CEO claims it discounted Java by 97.5% to beat out Android on Amazon’s Paperwhite

oracle v google Oracle and Google continue to fight it out in a retrial over $ 9 billion that Oracle claims Google owes it for using its Java code in its popular Android mobile platform. And in the process, we’re also hearing details about other companies that may not have been known before. Today it was the turn of Amazon, which Oracle today said ran Java in its Kindle Paperwhite, but only after… Read More
Android – TechCrunch

Microsoft, Nokia, Oracle & Others Brand Android A “Trojan Horse” In EU Competition Complaint

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FairSearch.org group, a lobby group that counts Microsoft, Nokia and Oracle among its number, has filed a complaint about Google’s Android platform to the European Commission, describing Android as a “Trojan horse” designed to enable Google to “dominate the mobile marketplace and cement its control over consumer Internet data for online advertising as usage shifts to mobile”. We’ve reached out to Google for comment and will update this story with any response.

The Commission is in the midst of investigating Google’s online search practices over concerns of bias so FairSearch — a coalition of tech companies who all compete with Google and its services in some way — is likely hoping to pile additional pressure on at a time when the EC’s Competition Commissioner already has Mountain View on his mind. (In addition, Google is facing enforcement action across Europe for its unified privacy policy which consolidated more than 60 separate privacy notices, linking usage of various different Google services.)

FairSearch’s complaint is that “Google uses deceptive conduct to lockout competition in mobile” — by, specifically, requiring OEMs that use Android to pre-load a suite of Google services and give them “prominent default placement” on the device in order to also get access to ”must-have Google apps such as Maps, YouTube or Play”.  By doing this, FairSearch argues that Google “disadvantages other providers, and puts Google’s Android in control of consumer data on a majority of smartphones shipped today”, adding that this “predatory distribution of Android at below-cost makes it difficult for other providers of operating systems to recoup investments in competing with Google’s dominant mobile platform”.

Other providers of operating systems of course includes FairSearch member Microsoft and its Windows Phone platform which — unlike Android — is not free for OEMs to use and has failed to make any significant dent in Android’s global smartphone marketshare (though it has made a bit more progress in some European markets such as Italy, according to recent Kantar figures). Nokia also has its own mobile OS which competes with Android at the low end of the phone spectrum (Series 40), and uses Microsoft’s platform for its high end smartphones. Nokia does not use Android.

“Google is using its Android mobile operating system as a ‘Trojan Horse’ to deceive partners, monopolize the mobile marketplace, and control consumer data,” said Thomas Vinje, Brussels-based counsel to the FairSearch coalition, in a statement. “We are asking the Commission to move quickly and decisively to protect competition and innovation in this critical market. Failure to act will only embolden Google to repeat its desktop abuses of dominance as consumers increasingly turn to a mobile platform dominated by Google’s Android operating system.”

FairSearch cites Strategy Analytics data from Q4 2012 that pegged Android’s smartphone share at 70% of global shipments, and eMarketer data covered by Forbes suggesting Google’s dominance of mobile search advertising extends to 96% of the market.

At the time of writing we were unable to reach the Commission’s Competition spokesperson to confirm whether it plans to investigate FairSearch’s complaint — and, if so, whether it might link this complain to its current investigation into Google’s search practices. According to the Guardian, the EU Competition Commission team has been considering whether to include Android in any settlement with Google but has not yet reached a decision. Update: a Competition Commission spokesperson said: “We can confirm that the European Commission received the complaint from the Fairsearch.org. We have no further comments.”

There’s no doubt the computing market is reforming itself with mobile devices at the core, while the traditional desktop PC’s share declines – Gartner’s latest devices forecast paints a picture of the old empire of the PC crumbling away over the next five years as smartphones and tablets rise up to take its place — which explains Microsoft’s urgency to derail the Android bullet train, any which way it can. (Notwithstanding the irony that Microsoft itself was fined $ 731 million last month for antitrust violations that date back to 2011 relating to how it bundled its Internet Explorer browser with its Windows OS. IE is, of course, also the only browser choice Microsoft offers on its Windows Phone platform — but since Windows Phone has such a tiny marketshare Microsoft gets to favour its own services without any risk of being accused of anti-competitive behaviour).

Setting aside the Microsoft ironies, Google does police Android usage by withholding its Play Store (and other services) if too many changes are made but OEMs are of course free to fork Android, as Amazon has done with its Kindle Fire tablets, and thus can jettison Google’s surrounding services if they want — as is the case with many Chinese implementations of Android. It’s also possible to skin Android entirely, and tuck all Google’s services out of sight, as Facebook Home seeks to do. To say Google Maps, YouTube and Play are “must have” apps also seems a little disingenuous — when Nokia, for example, has its own mapping software (Here Maps) which at other times it would doubtless argue is competitive with Google Maps. As for YouTube, it can always be accessed via the mobile web.

That said, there is no doubting Android’s dominant position in the smartphone space. And Google has moved to limit the growth of alternatives — such as its smackdown to Acer (a member of the Android-backing Open Handset Alliance) when it announced plans to launch a phone based on Alibaba’s Aliyun OS — so it remains to be seen whether the Commission will decide it needs to take a closer look at Google’s strategy around Android and whether it needs to seek to level the smartphone playing field.


TechCrunch » android

Developer Freedom At Stake As Oracle Clings To Java API Copyrights In Google Fight

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Editor’s note: Sacha Labourey is CEO of CloudBees was formerly CTO at JBoss. Follow him on Twitter @SachaLabourey. Steven G. Harris is senior vice president of products for CloudBees and was formerly SVP of Java Server Development at Oracle. Follow him on Twitter @stevengharris.

You could hear a collective sigh of relief from the software developer world when Judge William Alsup issued his ruling in the Oracle-Google lawsuit. Oracle lost on pretty much every point, but the thing that must have stuck most firmly in Oracle’s throat was this:

So long as the specific code used to implement a method is different, anyone is free under the Copyright Act to write his or her own code to carry out exactly the same function or specification of any methods used in the Java API. It does not matter that the declaration or method header lines are identical. Under the rules of Java, they must be identical to declare a method specifying the same functionality — even when the implementation is different. When there is only one way to express an idea or function, then everyone is free to do so and no one can monopolize that expression. And, while the Android method and class names could have been different from the names of their counterparts in Java and still have worked, copyright protection never extends to names or short phrases as a matter of law.

As the friends-of-the-court submissions supporting Oracle show, this ruling has a lot of entrenched corporate heavyweights up in arms, too. It’s not every day you find Oracle in bed with rivals Microsoft and IBM (via the Business Software Alliance), and you can bet that the common denominator is about defending the aging Empire from the startup Foundation. Add a former head of the U.S. Copyright Office. To sweeten the stew, why not sprinkle in support from various industry players in the arts. Former Sun execs Scott McNealy and Brian Sutphin have also piped in.

This lineup of amicus curiae briefs should be alarming to software developers in general and to the future of our industry. Why? Their collective argument is that Judge Alsup’s ruling is bad for business. It may in fact be bad for the old guard’s business that is increasingly threatened by changes driven by open source and cloud-based services. But make no mistake: if Judge Alsup’s ruling is overturned on appeal, it’s not going to be in your interest as a software professional.

You make some bets when you create an API, but they’re not about monetizing the API.

APIs exist for a reason: They act as the communication channel, the lingua franca, the boundary, between the provider of the implementation and users of that implementation — developers. Of course they require an investment to create. Deep expertise — and even taste — is required to create effective APIs. But, companies and individuals make those investments because they want developers to use an implementation that is exposed through the API. That implementation might give people an incentive to buy your hardware, software or services. Who knows, maybe it gives you a more effective way to sell ads.

You make some bets when you create an API, but they’re not about monetizing the API. They’re about monetizing the things the API unlocks access to. You’ll find APIs documented and used in many books, blogs and open-source projects. Adoption is probably the key measure of success of an API. But then if you encourage developers to use your APIs, why can you prevent them from implementing “the other side” of them? When Captain Picard orders a “Tea, Earl Grey, Hot,” at the Oracle replicator, he’s using a kind of API: “Object. [Qualifiers…]”. Google or anyone else should be able to create their own replicator without Oracle insisting they use some other syntax.

Oracle lost in their attempt to protect their position using patents. They lost in their attempt to claim Google copied anything but a few lines of code. If they succeed in claiming you need their permission to use the Java APIs that they pushed as a community standard, software developers and innovation will be the losers. Learning the Java language is relatively simple, but mastering its APIs is a major investment you make as a Java developer. What Android did for Java developers is to allow them to make use of their individual career and professional investment to engage in a mobile marketplace that Sun failed to properly engage in.

What about compatibility and fragmentation? We’re big believers in Java compatibility and the value of branding and compliance testing. We sit on the Java Community Process Executive Committee. There is no doubt that Android is a messy world of compatibility issues compared to Java, and that Google’s compatibility regime has been less than a blazing success. (Java ME is no panacea of compatibility, though, either.) By creating a new non-Java virtual machine (Dalvik) underneath Android’s Java API-based libraries, Google sidestepped the strict specification license restrictions of required compatibility and no subsetting, supersetting or namespace pollution. Not many of us can afford to do that!

Now is the time to decide who should hold the knife by the handle.

Regardless, thanks to Android using Java APIs, Java developers feel right at home with Android, even if it doesn’t come with a coffee cup logo on it. The economic reality for Java developers is that they’ve gained much more in opportunity from Android than they lost in compatibility assurances due to Android’s subsetting the standard Java platform APIs. We are working with others inside the JCP to advance the current rules to be more in sync with the fork-friendly open source and cloud world. We believe that Oracle’s quest for a legal stranglehold on the Java API, which itself has been advanced through the Java Community Process, has nothing to do with compatibility and everything to do with cashing in on Java at the expense of the community.

With the IT industry shifting from packaged software to a cloud-based service model, this debate becomes even more important. As companies increasingly invest in SaaS, PaaS and IaaS solutions, their operations will depend on third-party APIs. Formal standards are only just emerging and adding FUD over the legal standing of API usage in the meantime is going to place a drag on the industry.

Now is the time to decide who should hold the knife by the handle: Will our economy thrive and be more competitive because companies can easily switch from one service provider to the other by leveraging identical APIs? Or will our economy be throttled by allowing vendors to inhibit competition through API lock-in? And should this happen only because a handful of legacy software vendors wanted to protect their franchises for a few more years?

This decision will impact us for decades to come and will apply to a new IT model – the cloud; yet, this decision is being made now amid heavy lobbying by legacy vendors who are struggling to survive in this whirlwind of change. Developers, your long-term livelihood, the richness of technology choices, and the competitiveness of our industry are at stake.


TechCrunch » android