Oracle's Google Lawsuit: All About 'Ego, Money and Power'

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2010-08-16
 
 
 

Oracle's patent infringement lawsuit versus Google is all about ego, money and power, so says the creator of the key technology in question.

In an Aug. 15 blog post, James Gosling, known as the father of Java, said:

"There are no guiltless parties with white hats in this little drama. This skirmish isn't much about patents or principles or programming languages. The suit is far more about ego, money and power."

That has been a common sentiment among both observers and participants in the software industry since Oracle announced its lawsuit on Aug. 12. Mostly, folks seem to view Oracle's move as a money grab, not a stake in the ground nor a true move to protect the sanctity of Java. Whatever it is, Oracle has made its move, and Google has responded saying it will defend its actions with Android.

However, what's perhaps more interesting about Gosling's post is that he gives props to Microsoft. Gosling said:

"It's a sad comment on the morality of large modern software companies that Microsoft, while I don't think they've gotten any better since Sun sued them, probably has the high ground.

"It's tough living in a world of Borg-wanna-be's."

Gosling's not the first to make comparisons or reference to Microsoft 1.0, which has a proven history of being amongst, if not THE, granddaddy of all the hardballers, egotists, power mongers and money grabbers in the industry-what with all the e-mails and evidence that arose about Microsoft cutting off Netscape's air supply, polluting Java and strong-arming OEMs with restrictive licenses, among other things.

But in the new world, Microsoft is not the Borg it used to be. And Gosling paints images of Apple, Google and Oracle as all sort of vying for a place in Borg-land. Or at least they are all looking for a bigger slice of the ego, money and power pie.

Gosling acknowledges that fragmentation was a concern for Sun Microsystems-then Java's master-when Google initially approached the company about Android.

However, money also was an issue, he says. Said Gosling:

"Money was, of course, also an issue between Sun and Google. We wanted some compensation for the large amount we would be spending on engineering. Google did have a financial model that benefited themselves (that they weren't about to share). They were partly planning on revenue from advertising, but mostly they wanted to disrupt Apple's trajectory, and Apple's expected entry into advertising. If mobile devices take over as the computing platform for consumers, then Google's advertising channel, and the heart of its revenue, gets gutted. It doesn't take much of a crystal ball to see where Apple is going, and it's not a pretty picture for Google or anyone else."

And to boot, Sun's fragmentation concerns were warranted, Gosling said. "Android has pretty much played out the way that we feared: There is enough fragmentation among Android handsets to significantly restrict the freedom of software developers," he said.

The folks at Sun were kind of a bunch of self-described laid-back hippies focused on innovation and did not view patents and patent lawsuits as important. Then IBM sued them for violating the RISC patent, and they got smart real quick, Gosling said.

The crux of the matter lies in this struggle that Gosling identifies in two sentences: "The freedom we were most concerned about was the freedom of software developers to run their applications on whatever OS or hardware they wanted. In opposition to that, the platform providers wanted the freedom to make their platforms as sticky as possible."

How do you make it so that both sides get what they want? Does he who owns the board and the pieces set all the rules?

Money, ego and power. It kind of sounds like what drives every industry. Sports, entertainment, politics, the media and particularly hip hop are all very much about ego, money and power. Gosling's post brings to mind the hip hop song, "Money, Power & Respect," by The LOX featuring Lil Kim. As simplified as it is, the Lil Kim intro just about says it all:

"See I believe in money, power and respect

First you get the money

Then you get the (expletive) power

And after you get the (expletive) power

You get the (expletives) to respect you"

 
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