Gosling: Google’s Java Attitude Will Break Android Compatibility

Darryl K. Taft covers IBM, big data and a number of other topics for TechWeekEurope and eWeek

There’s no one in charge of Java on Google’s Android OS – and that’s going to lead to trouble says Java creator James Gosling, in an interview on Java usage

Sun Microsystems, the central player in Java, is due to be acquired by Oracle, so this year’s Sun-organised JavaOne conference may be the last. Java creator James Gosling gave his only formal interview at that conference to eWEEK senior editor Darryl K. Taft – the latest in an annual series of têtes a tête, which this time proved to be both enlightening and emotional.

In Part 1 of the two-part interview, Gosling takes Google to task, explains the Java Store, and discusses OSGi and more. In Part 2, Gosling talks about the future – of Sun, Java and himself.


What do you think of Google’s use of Java or the subset of Java they use?
They are odd. It’s not like the petulant kid who doesn’t want to play with others. It’s like they’ve got their head in the clouds and they’re now saying, “Oh, you mean there are other people out there that we might want to play with?”

It’s really hard to tell what their intentions are with Android. They put this thing out there, and you’ve got lots of people picking it up. The big attraction seems to be the zero on the price tag. But everybody I’ve talked to who is building an Android phone or whatever, they’re all going in and they’re just hacking on it. And so all these Android phones are going to be incompatible.

One of the reasons that we charge license fees is because we’ve got organisations of people that do compatibility testing and actual negotiating amongst the different handset makers so that things like GPS APIs look the same. And what’s going on in the Android world is there’s kind of no adult in charge. And all these handset manufacturers are doing whatever they damn well please. Which means that it’s just going to be randomness. It could be “let a thousand flowers bloom” – but it also could be a dog’s breakfast. And I guess having been around the track a few times, it feels like it’s going to be more of a dog’s breakfast.

At this JavaOne what would you say is the biggest piece or the biggest new thing?
We’re getting to this point where everything is tied together. So with my myopic blinders on … what I’ve spent most of my time on in the last few months has been the store [Sun’s Java Store]. For me that’s a pretty big deal. It’s going to be a very different kind of store than people have seen before. The JavaFX stuff is doing way better than I ever hoped. I think when we first started the JavaFX thing we were wringing our hands about all kinds of weird devices and people thought we were kidding.

So things like the [Java-powered] LG television, the fact that that’s actually a product that is shipping and in stores. … Admittedly, it’s only shipping in Korea because it’s a cable TV set-top box for the Korean market. But it’s got the cable TV set-top box standards … and fairly beefy Java engines. And that device runs JavaFX wonderfully. That’s a TV that I believe the guts of it will be showing up all over the place…

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