Sunday, January 3, 2016

Copyright - Google's Android to be based on open source Java APIs

    Google recently confirmed that the next version of its Android operating system, Android N, will no longer use any of Oracle's proprietary Java application programming interfaces (APIs).  Instead, Android will now be based on OpenJDK - an open source version of Oracle's Java Development Kit (see VentureBeat).

    Why the switch?

     In VentureBeat, Google explains that the switch as being part of the open-source nature of Android.

    The real reason for the switch probably originates from the Oracle v. Google copyright lawsuit that found Oracle had a copyright over Java APIs.  That decision meant the Google created versions of Java libraries underpinning its Android operating system infringed the Oracle Java APIs.  Even though Google could continue with the legal proceedings, by switching to the OpenJDK libraries Google can cap its legal liability to older versions of Android.  For context, in 2014, more than 1 billion Android-based devices -- smartphones, tablets, and PCs -- shipped (see Gartner, Table 2), and that number is projected to reach almost 1.5 billion Android devices in 2015 (see Gartner, Table 2).

    As an aside, the restructuring of Google, Inc. under the parent company Alphabet also makes sense (see Aug 10, 2015 Google press release).  By splitting the old Google into a number of smaller companies under Alphabet, they are limiting any potential negative exposure to the individual subsidiaries.

- Henry Park

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