Sun would have paid for a Java phone: Schwartz

In what might be one of the most anticipated appearances of the Oracle-Google trial thus far, former Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz testified on behalf of Google at the US District Court on Thursday morning.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

In what might be one of the most anticipated appearances of the Oracle-Google trial thus far, former Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz testified on behalf of Google at the US District Court on Thursday morning.

Schwartz served as chief executive officer of Sun from 2006 until 2010. Schwartz is now the CEO of San Francisco-based start-up CareZone.

Schwartz described that when Java was initially developed in the mid-1990s, there was one company "dominating" computing: Microsoft.

Thus, with the development of web servers and web languages, these newer technologies offered opportunities "to write all kinds of magical things". Schwartz added that "what was important for Sun at the time" was to open up new markets to basically "get away from Microsoft".

Furthermore, to promote Java, Schwartz commented that it was "critically important that we not simply market to businesses, but also the seeds of all future businesses", which he defined as being universities and high schools around the world.

Schwartz also confirmed to Google counsel Robert Van Nest that Sun promoted the open use of Java APIs, as well.

"You had to if you wanted to see that language broadly accepted," Schwartz explained. "Those APIs enabled people to write full, complete applications that leverage all the technology underlying the platform."

He added that the distribution of those APIs across the world enabled the adoption levels that Sun was seeking.

To further boost those adoption levels, Sun had to find a way to be bigger than Microsoft, and Schwartz said that was made possible with the open Java community. Partners included Oracle, SAP, Sybase and many other Silicon Valley giants.

"It would give us something to pull together that was bigger than the monopoly itself," Schwartz remarked.

Schwartz described that the community talked about open APIs and competing implementation. He affirmed that basically everyone would have the same set of APIs, but each company would create its own products, the virtual machines specifically, to go off and perform.

Getting into what is at the heart of Google's case — that the 37 Java APIs in question were free for its engineers to use on Android — Van Nest asked Schwartz whether the Java APIs were ever sold or licensed separately from the language. Schwartz replied instantly, "No, of course not."

Van Nest also asked Schwartz if the Java APIs were considered proprietary to Sun, to which Schwartz also replied no, adding that "we would have worked very hard to say that wasn't true".

When Sun started partnership negotiations with Google as far back as 2005, Schwartz commented that the goal was to create an even bigger market for Sun.

He also explained that Sun was looking for two things. First, Schwartz said that the "one that mattered" was revenue.

"We wanted a big licence and a big fee so they could call it a 'Java phone'," Schwartz explained.

The second benefit would be compatibility and wider support for the Java community, because Java developers could then develop their apps for anyone from Nokia to Ericsson to potentially Google.

Nevertheless, Schwartz admitted that "like almost all companies, Google wants to control their destiny". He acknowledged that when you take a licence, you can't control your own destiny, and that can slow things down.

"You're now married, and you have to find out a way to get along," Schwartz said.

While Sun wanted to "find ways to make Google comfortable", Schwartz acknowledged that "they felt they could better execute on their own, and didn't need what we had to offer".

However, even though Schwartz said that Sun wanted to get revenue from Google if a partnership could be hammered out, Schwartz said that the deal did not fall apart for money.

"We probably would have paid them to work with us on a Java phone," Schwartz admitted.

Ahead of the announcement of Android in 2007, Schwartz told Van Nest that Sun was aware of a few things about Android, including that Google would be using the Java languages and APIs.

"They were not subtle about it," Schwartz commented.

Thus, in a November 2007 blog post, which has been bounced around as a piece of evidence repeatedly in this trial, Schwartz had congratulated Google on the production of Android.

Although Schwartz admitted that Sun wishes things had happened differently, he said on the stand that this could have gone one of two ways: either Sun could have sued Google, or embraced it and got onto the value chain.

"We didn't like it, but we weren't going to stop it by complaining about it," Schwartz said.

But really, Schwartz and Sun might have had another enemy in mind.

"Imagine for a moment if Google selected Microsoft Windows," Schwartz said, explaining that this was the only other option at the time, besides an open-source Java implementation.

Thus, for Schwartz, the silver lining for him was that at least this way, Google could be part of the community.

Damage control

Following former Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz's eager but sometimes tension-filled appearance on the stand on Thursday morning, Sun co-founder Scott McNealy appeared for testimony at the US District Court.

McNealy was actually called to the stand by Oracle, even though Google is still in the middle of presenting its case. Google counsel Robert Van Nest stressed to Judge William Alsup that he wants the jury to know that Google was accommodating Oracle with the timing of this testimony.

It wasn't hard to see why Oracle wanted McNealy in the courtroom before closing statements in the copyright portion of the eight-week trial. McNealy affirmed to Oracle counsel David Boies that Java was "extremely valuable" to Sun, and that it involved "lots of intellectual property".

Going over the restrictions that Sun had in place through licensing, McNealy explained that the "most important one, with respect to Java, is to maintain compatibility, because that was one of the most important value propositions that we offered".

In an effort to null the testimony that the jury heard from Schwartz less than 30 minutes prior, Boies asked if it was ever Sun's policy to allow any company to implement an incompatible version of Java so long as they didn't call it Java.

"I don't recall that was ever a strategy that we pursued nor allowed in the marketplace," replied McNealy.

When asked if he saw Schwartz's November 2007 blog post (now a notable piece of evidence bounced around by both sides to their own — but different — advantages in this case) praising Google's announcement of Android, McNealy looked down but laughed.

"If you don't tell him, no. I didn't read it," McNealy said with a slight grin, adding that he only read occasional entries.

Nevertheless, he asserted that it was company policy that those kinds of blogs were not corporate, but rather personal.

Despite an objection from Van Nest, Boies asked whether allowing an incompatible version of Java to exist on the market would adversely affect Sun's economics. After a long explanation, McNealy finally said it would have a "negative" effect.

"It was a very clear corporate strategy for the Java platform to stay compatible," McNealy said.

Up until Thursday, the technology — especially the Java APIs — has been front and centre in this case. Possibly seeing the road to closing statements getting shorter, both sides of the courtroom have become more severe — and personal — in their lines of questioning and tactics.

Earlier in the day, Schwartz got into a rather heated, back-and-forth conversation with Oracle counsel Michael Jacobs, which eventually devolved into a discussion about whether Schwartz had been fired from Sun or he had resigned.

Upon cross-examination, Van Nest took an approach that tried to convey McNealy as an Oracle insider, possibly calling his testimony for Oracle into question.

Van Nest commenced by asking if McNealy is a "close personal friend" of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. Looking surprised by the question as his eyes shifted a bit, McNealy affirmed this to be true.

Furthermore, Van Nest asked if McNealy had ever referred to Ellison as a "national economic hero".

"That's correct. Anyone who pays that many taxes is a national economic hero," McNealy affirmed to some laughter in the courtroom.

Van Nest also brought up the fact that McNealy had once said in public that the Norman Mineta International Airport in San Jose should be renamed after Ellison, to which McNealy quipped that "airports should be named after taxpayers, not politicians".

Van Nest also asked McNealy how much he cashed out after Oracle acquired Sun in 2010. McNealy couldn't provide an exact figure, but estimated that it was approximately US$150 million to US$200 million in stock.

Via ZDNet US

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