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Ellison: Java-based Netbooks on Sun's horizon

Oracle's CEO sees a strong future for Java after the Sun buyout and entertains the possibility of new portable devices from the combined company.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison wants to see Java on a lot more devices, particularly mobile phones and Netbooks. Whether or not the combined Oracle/Sun builds such devices, Ellison expects to pour more money and research into Java's development.

The tech community has been wondering what will happen to Java now that its new parent will be Oracle, courtesy of the database giant's impending $7.4 billion buyout of Sun Microsystems, which is expected to close this summer.

Larry Ellison and Scott McNealy at JavaOne
Larry Ellison and Scott McNealy at JavaOne JavaOne

At Tuesday's JavaOne conference in San Francisco, Ellison made a surprise appearance on stage, where he spoke with Sun Chairman Scott McNealy about Java's future.

"I think you'll see us get very aggressive in developing Java apps for things like telephones and Netbooks," said Ellison. He added that he's been reading a lot about mobile devices, including those running Google's Android operating system, that make use of Java. He's looking for greater development of mobile applications using Sun's JavaFX Mobile platform, which is optimized to run on cell phones and Netbooks.

Ellison highlighted Java-based cell phones and netbooks running Android as key areas to target and hinted that Oracle/Sun may want to enter that arena directly. "I can see lots and lots of Java devices, some coming from our friends at Google," said Ellison. "But I don't see why some of those devices shouldn't come from Sun/Oracle."

Hardware makers that have already unveiled or announced phones and Netbooks based on Android include Acer, HTC, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson.

Ellison threw his full support behind Java, reminding the crowd at JavaOne that Oracle's middleware makes good use of Java. He called it an "attractive platform" because of its openness and the ability to extend it. "Everything that sits on top of our database--all our products--are Java-based," he said. He added that Oracle's whole next generation of business applications is built entirely on Java.

When asked by McNealy about the future of Java in general, Ellison said, "Sun has done a fantastic job inventing Java, expanding Java, opening up Java, giving Java to the world, and we're going to do more of the same." He noted that Oracle has invested heavily in Java in the past and believes that investment will continue and even accelerate. "We see increased investment in Java coming from the Sun/Oracle combination," he said.

The full exchange between Ellison and McNealy is available below.