2010-08-13

Pull yourself together Larry Ellison

Oracle recently decided to attack Google's Android platform for patent infringement.  I have yet to talk to anyone in the Java community that supports this move.  In fact, most people I have talked about this think that Oracle are shooting themselves in the foot.

When Oracle bought Sun I didn't really know what to make of it.  Sun has not exactly had the most brilliant leadership on the planet.  In fact, you would probably be hard pressed to detect any direction or vision from the upper management at Sun over the past 10 years.  They've made some neat stuff, but there has been no identifiable greater vision.
Given their technology portfolio Sun should have been at the forefront of the Cloud computing industry.  They should have been bigger and better than Amazon at this point.  But they are not.  And it wasn't like they didn't have the time to see this opportunity and act on it.

Larry Ellison is not an idiot.  He has done some smart moves in the past, and in all seriousness I thought that he had seen what most sensible people had seen:  Sun has a great technology portfolio and a very dedicated community around Java -- a programming environment they have managed really well.  All Sun needed was focus,  a visionary leader, to shed parts of its mediocre management and a vitamin injection to go do the things that need doing.

I mean, for Sun, it couldn't possibly get any worse.  Right...?

I really thought that Oracle understood what they were buying and buying into -- the Java community.  I thought that they realized both the value and the fragility of the community.

Their flat-footed approach to Java suggests otherwise.  From minor things, like annoyingly moving the Javadocs to an Oracle domain to this litigious bullshit.

Larry, there is no nice way to put this, so I am going to be open, honest and helpful and express myself using language an alpha-baboon like you can relate to: you are being an asshole.

Worse still, you are being a dumb asshole.  By pissing all over the Java community you are reducing the value of your Sun acquisition.

You need the Java community and you need the enthusiasm -- without it, Sun is just a badly run, mediocre company that would eventually have gone bankrupt.  The Android project are your friends.  They are succeeding in pushing Java on mobile platforms -- something Sun dropped the ball on a decade ago and something which you, Larry, would never be able to rectify on your own.  With all due respect, you are a brilliant business man, but you know f*ck-all about technology.  Mobile computing is going to be a huge area of growth -- the potential in this market is much higher than for desktop computing.

You might technically have a case in court, but even if you win, you stand to lose a lot more.  If you manage to introduce fear, uncertainty and doubt into the (mobile) Java community, people will look elsewhere.  If there is uncertainty around the Android platform and if you waste everyone's time with this litigious bullshit, you are playing into the hands of your competitors.  Rather than fostering a massive future Java ecosystem on mobile devices you could end up pushing people to move to a different environment.  You could end up turning Java into another .NET -- for which there is exactly zero enthusiasm and zero future in the mobile market right now.

Don't think that the companies backing Android aren't capable of creating their own ecosystem that doesn't involve Oracle.  There is too much at stake and the potential market is big enough for it to be worth a try. Keep up this petty nonsense, and you just might piss off enough people to lose the one shot you have at a key role for a technology you own in a rapidly expanding market.

Pull yourself together, Larry. And get rid of whomever is responsible for Java at Oracle right now, because they are certainly not doing their job.

2 comments:

  1. Let me clarify something. When I said that Larry Ellison is not an idiot I meant it.

    I have great respect for this guy's business sense. People keep forgetting that Oracle is still around even though they've tangled with some of the more aggressive companies on the planet. Ellison has also helped save other companies in the past. Among them Apple.

    This guy is very good at what he does.

    Even though he is a lot smarter about business than many of you give him credit for, this time he is quite obviously wrong. I think he has not grasped the potential upside of Java becoming The mobile programming language and has been blinded by the semi-low-hanging fruit of patent trolling.

    (To those of you who think J2ME was a mobile computing success: no, it wasn't. It was an unmitigated disaster and for all practical purposes there has not been a viable mobile Java platform until now. Get over it)

    That being said, Ellison *is* an arrogant ass and he had better come up with some way to repair the damage he has done to Java's reputation REAL FAST.

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