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Andy Rubin's testimony from the Oracle v. Google trial (round two!)

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The copyright infringement phase of the Oracle v. Google trial has been underway for a week now, but today we get a chance to hear testimony directly from Google's Android chief, Andy Rubin.

Asia D Andy Rubin
Asia D Andy Rubin

The copyright infringement phase of the Oracle v. Google trial has been underway for a week now, but today we get a chance to hear testimony directly from Google's Android chief, Andy Rubin. Rubin is likely the one person who can paint the complete picture for us — from initial development through to the most recent version updates to the operating system. For example, evidence introduced at trial so far indicates Rubin was intimately involved in the original negotiations with Sun Microsystems over the anticipated use of Java, and later decisions to separately develop Java APIs for Android — the crux of Oracle's copyright infringement accusations in the case.

Anyway, our very own Bryan Bishop is live in the courtroom to provide us with all of the testimonial goodies as they're uttered, so let's get to it (timestamps in Pacific Time):

1:04 pm: That's all for today's testimony! The jury looked more than relieved to filter out of the courtroom after some of the more recent questioning. Andy Rubin is scheduled to continue his testimony tomorrow, with Google also planning to call engineer Dan Bornstein — the originator of the Dalvik virtual machine.

12:56 pm: Rubin has stated that the reason Sun and Google’s partnership deal didn’t close was due to their differing definitions of an open software project. “If you open something up and give it away for free you have to let it go,” Rubin just said. “We wanted to let it go and have it flourish in the open.” Sun, it would seem, didn’t feel the same way.

12:41 pm: The jury isn't nearly as engaged as they were when Schmidt was on the stand. Two are resting their eyes, another is staring at the media section, one is just looking around randomly, and a fifth is sitting with folded arms, scowling.

12:39 pm: Now looking at an email to Sun with an attachment labeled "Monetization proposal." The email mentions that Sun is "considering providing a Java implementation as a key component." If Sun provided you their source code, would you have needed a license? "I think so, yeah, it's their work."

12:37 pm: Sun and Google went back and forth on changing the license to allow Google to open-source its implementation, says Rubin. The last line of the email from 2005 is "As discussed, the two companies are aligned against a common industry bully." (Microsoft, in case you were wondering.)

12:33 pm: Rubin wanted to have a conversation with Sun and convince them to open source elements of Java as they had done with other partners. Looking at an email between Rubin and a Sun sales person responsible for Java in which Rubin wrote, ""Looks like there are no roadblocks to us taking a license and then open sourcing our implementation... Right now we are moving ahead with the project, and doing an independent implementation."

12:29 pm: Showing off a 2005 presentation about "Project Android" given by Rubin after he'd been at Google for two weeks. "Java + Javascript / XML" is described as a "key differentiator."

12:29 pm: Any drawbacks to using Java? "I think there were some technical drawbacks. It didn't run programs as fast as if the program had been developed under C or some what's called a non-interpretive language."

Java "didn't run programs as fast as if the program had been developed under C."

12:26 pm: Had you decided for sure that you'd use Java at this time? "We hadn't decided for sure. We were still arguing over what was best for us. Python was one that would have worked." Other languages they considered? "Javascript, Python, Lua."

12:24 pm: Rubin going through some little-known elements of Android. "In more than a handful of instances we partnered with and paid companies to contribute to the open platform. We would come in and say, 'Hey, why don't you open source your company,' and in return we'll pay you a little bit of money."

12:21 pm: Rubin knew Larry Page from Danger, asked him to check out Android. He became director of engineering in 2005 — the product stayed the same but "the business strategy shifted." Rubin didn't feel they needed to build software services to sell to mobile industry because Google had search money" and a ready-made suite of applications.

12:19 pm: Did you perceive open source as an advantage to the handset makers, carriers? "We thought we'd dramatically decrease the cost of smartphones."

"We thought we'd dramatically decrease the cost of smartphones."

12:17 pm: Why'd you start Android? Sidekick was limited and niche-y, and "I had a vision, I wanted my parents, my friends, and everybody carrying these things." Giving it away free is a core part of the business strategy — "it makes it frictionless, nobody has to even talk to us to use our software."

12:16 pm: Rubin says he didn't think Danger needed a license for Java.

12:14 pm: Rubin saying Danger licensed Java from Sun for a variety of reasons. "At Danger when we were building our platform we wanted to the ability for anybody to program for it." Wanted to take advantage of all the college kids who knew how to program Java. Danger did a clean-room implementation of Java. "We didn't think we needed" a license but there were some advantages. Wanted acces to Java TCK so they could "make sure we were compatible with our devices running the Java programming language." The brand was also important, he thought they could get a marketing life with the Java logo.

"At Danger when we were building our platform we wanted to the ability for anybody to program for it."

12:12 pm: Rubin opens by talking about his background, his first computer that he got in 1976. Talking about his stint at Apple and then Danger. "Well at that time, the majority of phones people carried with them were flip phones... they weren't great at accessing the internet." Van Nest is holding up a flip phone to emphasize the point.

12:08 pm: After a long session with Eric Schmidt (coverage of which you can find right here), Andy Rubin is back on the stand after being called by Google.

8:52 am: Oracle's goal was clearly to establish that Rubin was aware of Sun's fragmentation concerns, and had moved forward with Android without regard. From where we're sitting, Rubin gave them absolutely nothing. While not as obvious as Larry Page had been in not remembering so many of the noted exchanges, it was still a constant refrain of "I don't recall" and vague "I don't understand their definition of fractured" waffling. We're sure to get some more specific answers when Google calls him to the stand.

8:46 am: Rubin was as cool a customer as we've seen yet in this trial. His measured tone and the pace of his voice never wavered a single moment — even as he was being grilled by Oracle's counsel.

8:36 am: Alright, that was quick. Oracle has finished up with Rubin, already. He'll be up again for Google, after...Eric Schmidt. Schmidt's up next.

8:31 am: Oracle's attorney is getting extremely frustrated, nearly shouting at Rubin — who is coming off as a Zen master with his ability to remain calm in the face of the questioning. They're discussing email headers, and whether the three parties featured at the top of the email in question make it clear what parties were involved. You read that right: arguing about email headers.

Oracle's attorney is getting extremely frustrated, nearly shouting at Rubin

8:29 am: This is interesting. Rubin is getting into a heated exchange with one of Oracle's attorneys, claiming he can't verify for sure that he was part of the email exchange in question — or who had originated the words attributed to Bornstein — because of the number of indentation brackets at the side of the email.

8:25 am: Back to the topic of fragmentation. Discussing an email from Dan Bornstein to Rubin that states: "Java has very little fragmentation and it's adoptable. If we play our cards right, we can also leverage not only existing developers, but applications as well."

8:23 am: So far, Rubin is coming across as very calm and measured on the stand.

8:18 am: Oracle is now asking Rubin about fragmentation concerns; namely, software engineer Tim Lindholm's email to Rubin regarding fragmentation. Rubin states he isn't sure whether Lindholm or Sun had the same definition: "I had my own definition of what I thought fragmentation meant, yes."

8:06 am: Andy Rubin has taken his place on the stand for day two of his testimony. As with most witnesses, Oracle's lawyer is having Rubin authenticate various documents that will be used during the questioning. We should be underway, soon.


We're covering the testimony as it comes in live, so hit refresh for updates!