Eric Schmidt talks Android, search revenue in Oracle-Google IP trial

Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, testifies at the U.S. District court as Oracle prepares to wrap up its argument in the copyrights portion of the intellectual property trial.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO -- Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman and former chief technology officer of Sun Microsystems, took the stand in the Oracle-Google trial on Tuesday morning.

See alsoGoogle's Rubin spars with Oracle over definition of fragmentation Trial: Eric Schmidt discusses Google-Sun negotiations for Android CNET: Google's Andy Rubin dodges David Boies' bullets CNETGoogle's Eric Schmidt defends Android in court

Schmidt was actually a few minutes late to the U.S. District Court in San Francisco's Civic Center neighborhood. Google counsel Robert Van Nest told Judge William Alsup that Schmidt was supposed to arrive at 8:30AM after Rubin was questioned by Oracle's David Boies.

Yet by 8:40AM when Rubin finished his testimony for the plaintiff, Schmidt was "somewhere in the building" but couldn't be found. Thus, the court took a brief, 15-minute recess before Schmidt was called to the stand.

The linchpin to Boies's line of questioning this time revolved around the search and advertising revenue benefits that Android offered to Google after it was acquired in 2005.

Boies called up a presentation that has been cited as evidence in the earlier in the trial. Conducted in August 2005 about "Project Android," the slide show was presented to a group that does product strategy at Google, including some of the company's top executives.

On page five of the presentation, it read, "Google benefits by having more control of the user experience and built-in Google apps."

When asked to explain what that meant, Schmidt said that he didn't write this, but his interpretation was that Android would use Google applications and products. He also noted that Google makes most of its advertising revenue from search.

To emphasize how vital Android has been for search, Boies asked Schmidt if he had ever said that additional search revenue paid for "Android and a whole bunch more." Schmidt confirmed he had once said this.

Flipping through the presentation, Boies highlighted two bullet points:

Disrupt the closed and proprietary nature of the two dominant industry players: MSFT and Symbian.


Eventually build a community force around Google handset API and applications.

Boies asked if the plan was then to beat Microsoft and Symbian to volume, meaning by getting as many Android handsets out there to as many consumers as possible.

Schmidt affirmed this, adding, "Yes, volume means a lot of users, so certainly more customers."

Boies continued by asking if Google's analysis was that people who use Android search more than people who don't use Android.

Schmidt replied, "The primary reason to have something like Android is that people we'll do more searches, and we'll get more money as a result."

Among a few other pieces of evidence, Boies cited an email from Lindholm on August 5, 2010 to Android chief Andy Rubin, as well as a few other executives at Google. Boies acknowledged that he didn't expect Schmidt to have ever personally seen this email before, and Schmidt confirmed that he had not.

Boies highlighted this excerpt and asked Schmidt's thoughts about it:

What we’ve been asked to do (by Larry and Sergei [sic]) is to investigate what technical alternatives exist to Java for Android and Chrome. We’ve been over a bunch of these, and think they all suck. We conclude that we need to negotiate a license for Java under the terms we need.

Schmidt said that he had never been approached or reported to by Lindholm about this initiative.

When shown the Android GPS presentation from July 26, 2005, Schmidt said that he didn't know if he was there, and that he didn't recognize the document.

Recalling the "Must take license from Sun" snippet, Boies asked if Schmidt had been told that the people responsible for Android must take a license from Sun for Java.

Schmidt said that he couldn't remember, but continued, "Given the way Sun's licensing model works, it must be incorrect."

Shortly after this point, Oracle rested its case in the first third of trial -- this one covering copyrights only. Thus, Google called Schmidt as its first witness.

Van Nest asked Schmidt about his time as chief technology officer while at Sun and about his experience with Java through 1997, after which he served as chief executive officer at Novell. Schmidt joined Google in 2001 as CEO until he became executive chairman last year.

While at Sun, Schmidt noted that he was the executive in charge of projects related to Java, but the work was done by the technical team. He did, however, offer his opinion about Java APIs.

"The language itself is not useful without the ability to make something happen," Schmidt explained, "What the API does is make something happen."

Schmidt also talked licensing at Sun, explaining that licenses worked one of two ways: You could implement how Sun did it and pay, or use your own implementation and not pay Sun.

Schmidt added that this was the policy because, otherwise, people thought [Sun was] going to hurt them by making changes.

"By giving them the freedom to make their own implementation, they always had a safety valve," Schmidt said.

Moving on to the foundation of Android at Google in 2005, Schmidt explained earlier points about Google's ambition to compete with Microsoft.

"At the time, we were quite concerned about Microsoft's products," Schmidt said, including mumbling a jab about that not being the case now. Schmidt also pointed out that this was before the iPhone had been released by Apple.

Schmidt went on to say that this was about "a process of discovery" and a goal: Get as many customers as possible on an open platform so that they could explore the web and as many services we provide for them.


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