Oracle's lawsuit against Google over the Android mobile platform has upset some developers, even though the ultimate effect of the litigation remains to be seen.
"The group is very, very unhappy," with the lawsuit, says David Cao, an organizer of the Silicon Valley Android Developers group and a vice president at BeyondSoft Consulting. Oracle, he says, is alienating the open source community. But he believes "Android will prevail."
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A leader in the Linux space echoed similar sentiments. "Oracle has significantly undermined its relationship with the open source and developer community," says Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu Linux distributor Canonical. "That may or may not have an immediate impact on its bottom line, but it's going to present real challenges for the pace of adoption of key Oracle technologies like Java and MySQL, which have traditionally been led from the bottom up. Developers have been the drivers of adoption of open source platforms, and they will avoid platforms that look like patent traps."
Oracle filed a lawsuit against Google last week alleging that the Android mobile OS violates patents pertaining to the Java technology Oracle acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems early this year. Now, speculation runs rampant about the lawsuit's possible impacts, if any, on Java, open source, software patents, and even to rival platforms, such as Microsoft's neophyte Windows Phone 7. Android competitors, including Microsoft, might actually benefit from the suit, says IDC analyst Al Hilwa.
Android developers stick up for Google
Developers thus far are sticking by Android, says Cao, who described himself as a longtime Java developer before beginning work in Android in 2008. "I haven't seen anybody move away from Android development because of this lawsuit," he notes.
"I strongly believe Android has great potential," says Cao. He lauds Android for being open and powerful. Android is superior to the officially sanctioned Java Micro Edition for mobile development, and "Google actually helped the Java community at large in mobile development," he says.
However, Hilwa says that the suit could drive away devicemakers and developers, especially big ones like Motorola that base key products on Android. "Lawsuits like this could put the kibosh on Android adoption," he says. That why Hilwa anticipates some kind of settlement, so Google can reassure its partners.