During yesterday’s proceedings in the ongoing Oracle vs. Google trial, an expert for Oracle came up with a figure for a number that Google doesn’t normally disclose to the public; the amount of total revenue they’ve brought in from Android. With Google co-founder and Alphabet CEO Larry Page on the stand the expert upped the ante on the previous $31 billion figure and claimed that Google had seen over $42 billion come in from Android over the years, and backed up the claim with a document where Android was referred to as a “$43B/year ecosystem”. Page refuted this, saying that the figure was for the entire Android ecosystem, from carriers to manufacturers and advertising partners – Google’s revenue was only a part of the purported amount.
Rather than press the issue, Oracle’s lawyers moved on in the line of questioning, with Page keeping his head safely above water with each question. He even managed to throw in a subtle insult when Oracle’s lawyers asked about the motive for Google acquiring Android in 2005, saying that he was frustrated with current phones, which were mostly running Java. Oracle’s lawyers began questioning him about his knowledge of the Java code used in Android being unlicensed, to which he replied that it was “industry practice” to re-implement APIs. His argument is technically correct; at the time that the code was implemented, APIs could not be copywritten. The courts even agreed, until an appeals court in the U.S. recently sided with Oracle on the issue, bringing us to where we are today.
The years-long, incredibly tense trial has taken enough twists and turns to make the tech world dizzy. In its most recent incarnation, the spat has seen CEOs from both sides, programmers, professors and industry experts hitting the stand and delivering or being delivered upset after upset, from Oracle CEO Safra Catz busting out biblical quotes and assuring that the entire purpose of the Sun buyout wasn’t just to sue Google, to emails from Android forefather Andy Rubin indicating that he may have actually known it was a bad idea to proceed without getting licenses for some of the bits of code that are being contested in the trial.