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Schwartz: For Java phone work, Sun would have paid Google

In what could be a major blow to Oracle's case against Google, former Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz defends the openness of Java language and APIs at court.

SAN FRANCISCO -- 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 U.S. District Court this morning.

See also: Google: Sun, Oracle couldn't bring Android competitors to market

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

Schwartz described eagerly that when Java was initially developed in the mid-1990s, it came about during a time when there was one company "dominating" computing: Microsoft.

Jonathan Schwartz
Jonathan Schwartz Stephen Shankland/CNET

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 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 if the Java APIs ever sold or licenses 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."

The Java phone that might have been
When Sun started partnership negotiations with Google as far back as 2005, Schwartz commented that the goal here 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 license 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 when you take a license, 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 his 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.

Image via Google

Although Schwartz admitted that Sun wishes things happened differently, he said on the stand that this could have gone of two was: either Sun could have sued Google, or embrace it and get 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 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 a part of the community.

In less than an hour, Schwartz probably did more for Google's case than its lawyers have been able to do in the last nine days.

Oracle counsel Michael Jacobs questioned Schwartz, especially comparing the Android-Java case to Apache Harmony.

Schwartz explained that if Apache Harmony wished to release a product, even if it implemented Java APIs, it could do so without a license -- so long as it not call it Java.

"The Apache Foundation is totally free to ship their code into the market place," Schwartz said. "The only thing they can't do is call their product Java. We weren't going to give them a hall pass."

Furthermore, when Jacobs showed e-mails to Schwartz that Google senior vice president Andy Rubin had written in 2005 to other Google executives, saying that Google needed to get a license for Java.

Although Schwartz saw the e-mails for the first time on the stand, Schwartz remarked that Rubin "was inflating the right to implement those APIs and call them Java." Basically, Schwartz thought Rubin was making a big deal out of nothing, adding that the TCK was only necessary to call a product Java.

Yet, the cross-examination reached a heated impasse between Jacobs and Schwartz, to which Jacobs sternly concluded to the jury that Schwartz wasn't talking about Sun's legal position, but rather its business agenda.

Schwartz responded, "I don't think I'm qualified to speak as a lawyer," and he added that his point is that "we did have a business agenda."

Although he looked more agitated than Schwartz did, Jacobs pressed again firmly if Schwartz was focusing on "requirements for the brand -- not a view of Sun's legal position."

With more of a perturbed than flustered disposition, Schwartz replied, "I'm there to define our business strategy -- not to write our contracts."

This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Former Sun CEO: We would have paid Google for Java phone."