Steve Jobs gets revenge in Oracle vs. Google
The late Apple CEO is still a central player, even with his company sitting on the sidelines.
By Therese Poletti
Larry Ellison, the outspoken and brash chief executive of Oracle Corp., is always full of surprises.
This week, as one of the primary witnesses in Oracle's (ORCL) lawsuit against Google (GOOG) , he might be surprising even himself. With Oracle alleging Google's Android software infringes on its intellectual property, Ellison has become an unwitting avenger for his friend and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
Jobs, investors may remember, told the author Walter Isaacson many things for his biography before he died last year. One of his more passionate diatribes was on the topic of Google and how Android copied many features of Apple's (AAPL) iPhone and its iOS software. Jobs vowed he would "destroy Android, calling it a "stolen product."
"I will spend my last dying breath, if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong," Jobs told Isaacson. "I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this."
To date, Apple has never sued Google but instead has sued some of its hardware partners, including HTC and Samsung, for infringing on Apple's patents, including those that cover multi-touch gestures, swiping, pinching and expanding and other inventions.
Oracle's smartphone aspirations
Ellison, too, was inspired by the stunning success of the iPhone. He may have been good friends with Jobs, but clearly Ellison did not shy away from the idea of competing with him. In trial in federal court Tuesday, he testified, to the astonishment of many observers, that in 2009 Oracle considered getting into the smartphone business. It looked at buying either Research In Motion (RIMM) or Palm, which was later bought and ultimately dismantled by Hewlett-Packard (HPQ).
Oracle concluded that RIM was too expensive. Considering that RIM's shares -- now about $13.11 -- traded in a wide range from around $36.34 to a high of $83.02 during 2009, with 20/20 hindsight, it looks like Oracle made the correct assessment. The software behemoth is often capable of "brutally disciplined business decisions and if they decide they don't have experience in something, they stay out," said Al Hilwa, an analyst at IDC. Of course, Oracle could still be one of the contenders looking at the much-cheaper RIM now that it's lost much of its previous value, but that's a topic for another column.
Ultimately, Oracle decided that Sun Microsystems, which Oracle purchased in January 2010, was a better fit with its own corporate software business, and products of the two companies had long worked together. Sun also had its own software that is used in mobile phones, the Java programming language at the heart of Oracle's lawsuit against Google, and the arsenal for Ellison as the unintended avenger for Jobs.
- MSN Money on the go: Download the Stocks app for Windows Phone
Oracle first filed its lawsuit against Google in August 2010. Ellison testified that he had a meeting in 2010 with then-Google CEO Eric Schmidt to discuss a joint smartphone project with Google, in which Google would use Oracle's version of Java on Android. They never reached a deal.
Another CEO who had also had some fierce discussions with Schmidt in 2010 was Jobs. Google had just launched Android in January 2010. A few months later, as Apple CEO, Jobs was seen meeting Schmidt in a cafe in Palo Alto. During that meeting, Isaacson reported in his book, Jobs asked Schmidt to stop copying the iPhone's features in Android. Oracle is seeking damages of about $1 billion from Google, if it wins its case. As the trial unfolds and more details emerge, it's becoming clear how complex this intellectual property dispute really is. Google argues that it used the freely available elements of Java to develop Android. Former Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz is also expected to testify that he supported Google's use of Java.
Some are not yet convinced that Oracle will win any kind of watershed in licensing fees as damages.
"This case is not primarily about damages," wrote Florian Mueller, an intellectual property analyst, in a blog post earlier this month about the case.
So what is it about? Mueller argues that the most important question in the case is "whether Oracle will win a technically impactful injunction" that would block its use of Java in Android-based devices. Google's lawyers argued Tuesday that because Oracle was not able to make a smartphone, it now "wants a share of Android's profits."
But the case is also turning out to be a way for Ellison to seek some revenge against Google on behalf of Jobs, unwitting as it may be.
Jobs is continuing to haunt Android, in more ways than one.
More from MarketWatch
- Selling Apple is a sucker's play
- Dissecting Groupon's cash flow
- How to spot tech's winners and losers
The way I see it, the more competition the better. I don't want 1 company like Apple monopolizing the phone market.
I have an iPhone but I know several people who have Androids either by htc or Samsung and are happy with them.
On 2012/02/21 StanfordDaily article "virtual-learning" [http://www.stanforddaily.com/2012/02/21/virtual-learning/] in Comments part regarding to a murder case about a Stanford student May Zhou with which Eric Schmidt had threatened my life for sake of a Stanford professor Sebastian Thrun and a criminal suspect named Gabriele Scheler during their fight with Stanford:
About your ARROGANT question "If you think you have evidence (and i mean physical evidence) to the contrary why do you not take it to the police, or at least post what evidence you have (and I mean PHYSICAL evidence like fibres, DNA, fingerprints and the like)."
I am not physically in America, so I'd rather communicate with the police officer who's respnosible for May Zhou's case via email to tell serious stuff, my contact [firstname.lastname@example.org] , or we could discuss it right here on this board. Before the officer who's responsible would contact me for a serious discussion, how could you know there is no such PHYSICAL evidence to say May Zhou's death is definitely a murder but not a suicide? As a matter of fact, such PHYSICAL evidence already exists and that's what I am going to tell.
The point at this time is, who is this officer who's respnosible for May Zhou's case, whom I should talk to? Could you have me connect with this officer? I have serious stuff to report
Meanwhile, why don't you help us to figure out what's the motivation behind May Zhou's death
Eric, the point at this time is, my accusations are clearly stated while you tried to put on self-deception with several lies, and also I had challenged the officer who’s responsible for this case, while he/she dare not reply, all of which would make people more curious of what did you involve and more believe in what I said
This case regards to people with background of great powers as Eric Schmidt is, and also regards to crimes as serious as threatening the victim and endangering people's lives; and already someone innocent like Stanford student May Zhou had mysteriously died and victim's life was conspired; racial issue is a factor; if the case could not be clarified or leave any points dubious and obscure, it will cost more of human lives in the future. At either moral or legal fronts, there is a necessity to clarify the case to the public.
Eric, we know your name has a huge impact on human society, but how could you stand for your fame without completely clarifiying those accusations listed here? Can you deny any one of them?
Here is how Eric Schmidt involved into such anti-humanity crimes
Eric Schmidt had threatened my life with the death of Stanford student May Zhou during his fight with Stanford. Eric Schmidt is part of this plot in May Zhou's death. He had also conspired my life at a later time, and which had cost his Google CEO position.
It started from a 2004 Stanford campus assault case, in which a lady named Gabriele Scheler bitterly assaulted me; Police concluded that I am a victim while Scheler is a criminal suspect after serious investigation; However Sebastian Thrun later joined Scheler to false accuse me at Stanford, and Eric Schmidt had joined them to support Sebastian Thrun and Gabriele Scheler against ruling from Stanford and police. During their tough fight with Stanford in the early 2007, Eric Schmidt and Sebasitan Thrun's side had murderred May Zhou to threaten me, by telling me: "You see May Zhou, she's an Asian (me too an Asian), ... Police might not even find out who did it, what if it happened to you?" , and to terrorize Stanford (because May Zhou is Stanford student), and they did plot a murder on me as well last year when they found I would not compromise but insist on clarifying their crimes
These accusations had been confirmed by authorities investigation and stand still which Eric Schmidt and Sebastian Thrun dare not deny to the public so far. Eric Schmidt and Sebastian Thrun had not paid for their crimes
What is wrong is a broke financial system, where investors are tech ignorant, and even stupid. Google produced a superior Search Engine, they should have continued to develop the SEMANTIC WEB, continuing the idea that we are doing something spirtual with signs and symbols. Instead, blank minds, gave Google Billions of dollars to compete and meddle in every which way, having no comprehensive idea, except taking a technocratic approach to everything, competing with everybody, throughly disrupting all markets (that can be fun).
SO a gain, in a capitalist-system that has tech-wise investors, they would have given Google some money to continue developing their specialization. There wouldn't-shouldn't be the miracle Microsoft riches in a developed tech market.
About ANDROID based on UNIX, the creators of UNIX developed PLAN9 to replace it many moons ago, but that involves actually developing the current notion of OPERATING. Boo ANDROID!
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
Start investing in technology companies with help from financial writers and experts who know the industry best. Learn what to look for in a technology company to make the right investment decisions.
Eight leading technology companies -- bitter rivals in some cases -- are pushing the White House and members of Congress to rein in government surveillance.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY