Sun Microsystems is now a part of Oracle, but they could have been a part of Google instead. Google once had the opportunity to buy the company for $7.4 billion. While that figure may sound absurd, the trends of technology since have made Sun’s products – especially Java – seem well worth the price. Better yet, Google is now facing down a lawsuit from Oracle that may cost them more than any other Google lawsuit in history.
According to John Carroll over at ZDNet, not buying Sun was the “worst decision Google ever made.” That point probably won’t hold a ton of water if you look at Google’s “once upon a time” chance to get on board with Facebook. However, the choice certainly ranks fairly high on the list. Since Google didn’t choose to buy Sun Microsystems, they didn’t get the complete licensing and control rights to the various Sun Microsystems products.
Google most certainly uses Java in its development, and it’s a part of several key products. That’s especially true in Android. Oracle’s lawsuit is based on the claim that Google didn’t get appropriate licensing for using portions of patented, Oracle-owned code when it built its application engine on the Android platform. While Google denies the claims, saying they licensed everything appropriately and didn’t even use Oracle products in certain areas the plaintiff is pointing to, the case is major. In fact, according to an Oracle representative, the total being sought in damages extends into multiple billions of dollars.
The exact amount of damages paid (if any are paid) will make it clear whether or not Google should have invested in Sun Microsystems, but even without that factor, Sun products would have enabled Google greater flexibility and control in the smartphone and tablet markets.