|By Maureen O'Gara||
|February 14, 2011 07:15 AM EST||
The Zürich-based Myriad Group, which is already being sued by Oracle for ceasing to pay what Myriad claims are excessive Java licensing fees, appears to be daring Oracle to find new grounds to take it to court.
On Tuesday Myriad announced that it was going to try to get between Oracle and its God-given right to collect Java taxes - just like Google has with Android - and launch a thing called Alien Dalvik that will let Android apps run on non-Android platforms.
It means to begin, oddly enough, with the not-very-promising MeeGo Linux operating system and show off what it's got so far on the Nokia N900 smartphone next week in its suite at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Myriad may want to rethink some of its plans considering Reuters' report that Nokia has just scrapped its plans to go with a MeeGo phone, the combination of Intel's Moblin OS and Nokia's Maemo OS that's been seen as the replacement for Symbian and the key to Nokia competing with Apple and Android.
In a leaked internal memo Wednesday Nokia's new CEO Stephen Elop said, "We thought MeeGo would be a platform for winning high-end smartphones. However, at this rate, by the end of 2011, we might have only one MeeGo product in the market."
In that same memo Elop compared Nokia to a man on a burning oil platform and indicated that the crisis situation required it to jump off into the icy waters below.
At press time, it looked like that plunge would land Nokia in the arms of Microsoft, Elop's former employer. It was sort of a toss up whether Nokia would go with Microsoft Windows Phone 7or Android until Google's VP of engineering Vic Gundotra tweeted that "Two turkeys do not make an Eagle" in a pointed reference to Nokia's expected platform-switch announcement on February 11.
Anyway, Myriad said its widgetry would be commercialized later this year and move out from MeeGo to a wide range of other platforms. It figures most Android applications will run unmodified and look native to the user. All the user will know is that he suddenly has access to a wider range of applications.
As to our question about changing its plans because of Nokia's change in plans, Myriad replied that "While we cannot confirm an answer to your question at this time, Meego was an ideal first platform for Alien Dalvik from a development point of view as it is open source and is well documented. However, we anticipate additional versions of Alien Dalvik will be developed to support other mainstream operating systems. We are currently working with a number of partners to prioritize against market demands."
So, on to other issues.
Of course it was Google's use of the license-dodging Dalvik Java virtual machine that it got from the Apache Foundation's Project Harmony that provoked Oracle into suing Google for patent infringement. And Alien Dalvik seems to be some kind of superset of Myriad's existing Dalvik Turbo JVM, a high-performance substitute for the Google Dalvik running in Android that's supposed to increase application execution by up to five times. Its IP provenance is otherwise unclear.
Myriad said Alien Dalvik would "open up the Android experience to new audiences and generate new revenue opportunities for mobile operators, OEMs and app store owners."
In a canned statement CEO Simon Wilkinson added, "The proliferation of Android has been staggering, but there is still room for growth. By extending Android to other platforms, we are opening up the market even further, creating new audiences and revenue opportunities."
He might as well have waved a red cape in Oracle's face.
Myriad, Google and the Apache Software Foundation are all part of the cabal that's been trying - albeit not very successfully - to pry lose Oracle's dead man's grip from Java licensing.
Myriad and Google are tight enough to be using the same legal talent in their litigation with Oracle, a fact that made patent watcher Florian Mueller, who uncovered it, wonder if Google is picking up the tab for little Myriad's countersuit against Oracle or put it up to asking for $120 million in restitution plus damages.
He figures Myriad's claim of excessively high tariffs that Oracle undercuts could serve Google's interests. If Oracle had to lower the rates, it could affect the terms of any eventual settlement between Oracle and Google. But he also wonders if Alien Dalvik could also unsettle the relationship between Google and Myriad since it will encourage users to switch from Android to platforms - that Google derives "no particular commercial benefit" from - while keeping their apps.
Myriad, which was created from the combination of Esmertec and Purple Labs, claims to be Europe's largest mobile software company. It figures it's shipped over 3.7 billion software applications in more than 2.2 billion mobile phones. As you might expect, it was a founding member of the Android-loving Open Handset Alliance (OHA).
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