Although the Google / Oracle trial is endlessly entertaining drama with countless inside revelations, the actual dispute between the two companies over Java and Android at one time was extremely small: Sun wanted just $30-50 million for a Java license, by Eric Schmidt's estimation. So why didn't Google just pay? It wanted complete control over the Android platform, and it wasn't prepared to let Sun be involved. That's according to Andy Rubin, who wrote to Eric Schmidt in a 2006 email that he could "smell fear" and that Sun would probably accept a final price of $28m for a Java license. However, Rubin also warned that Google "did such a good job of convincing them our platform was a good idea, they want to have a hand in its design and 'own' parts where they have no value add."
"The handset industry is ripe for an innovator like Google to flush out the crap that's been circling the bowl for years."
Rubin was blunt in his assessment of Sun's employees and talents, and suggested that Google take a hard line in refusing Sun's help so that it could "flush out the crap that been circling the bowl for years":
Sun is really good at writing specs and will be especially good at bear-hugging us with countless droids (not the good kind) who are D players. The opportunity Google has is to approach the wireless industry from a clean slate. If are not careful, partnering with Sun will also bring all sorts of industry baggage that results in least common denominator designs built by consensus. The handset industry is ripe for an innovator like Google to flush out the crap that's been circling the bowl for years.
Rubin went on to say that he was happy to change his negotiating approach if needed since he was representing Google — at this point he'd been working at Google for less than a year, after all. Then-CEO Eric Schmidt responded by saying he wanted to hold a formal deal review meeting and that Larry Page was "loathe to accept any restrictions" on Google's behavior. In the end, of course, Google refused to take a license to Java or let Sun be involved in Android, resulting in the current litigation.