updated 03:55 pm EST, Fri November 16, 2007
Google v. Sun over Android
Google and Sun Microsystems may be headed towards conflict over the former's Android operating system, industry observers suggest. Android is able to make use of Sun's Java programming language, but instead of relying on the official Java Micro Edition engine, Google has developed a virtual machine of its own, called Dalvik; when Android encounters Java, it is converted into a Dalvik format. This may have been done, says developer Stefano Mazzocchi of Apache Labs, only to prevent phone makers from having to pay licensing fees to Sun each time they want to customize Android, or share their code publicly to skip the fee.
The difficulty may be that if Google relied on any of Sun's intellectual property to write Dalvik, it could be sued for patent infringement. Sun already describes Android as a "Java/Linux" platform, despite the fact that Google avoids referring to it in the same terms, writes InfoWorld. The Android SDK is instead positioned as a tool that lets developers build with Java. Sun's executive VP of software has said, though, that the company is "reaching out to Google," and that it hopes Google will return the favor to "ensure the software and APIs will be compatible so deployment on a wide variety of platforms will be possible."
The executive's concern may be legitimate, says developer Hari Gottipatti, because coders are already writing software for individual phones under JME, let alone Dalvik. The fees for JME are also nominal, says Gottipatti, and Sun may well have waived them if Google had asked.