Applications written for Google’s mobile operating system Android depend on something called Dalvik, a virtual machine, to run. Google has gone to great lengths to not call Dalvik a Java runtime, despite programmers essentially calling it yet another flavor of Java. Why’s that important? Sun Microsystems, the guys who created Java, was purchased by Oracle back in 2009. After they saw how popular Android had become, Oracle figured it would be an awesome time to take Google to court and try to get a cut of every Android device sold. That’s a lot of dough since Android activations are up to 550,000 per day and climbing. Now in March of this year we covered what we thought was an important announcement, that Google had hired James Gosling, who is known as the “Father of Java”, to help improve Android. Less than 6 months after we published that article, Gosling has had a change of heart. He’s leaving Google to work at Liquid Robotics as their Chief Software Architect. Liquid Robotics, which closed a $22 million financing round in June, make robots that gather ocean data.
Is this important? Yes and no. It’s important because Gosling is such a high profile software engineer who was brought in specifically to improve Android. His departure will make people ask questions about the future of Google’s OS. On the flip side it isn’t important because Google hires the best and the brightest, and they no doubt have engineers within their ranks who are either on parity with Gosling’s skill level or even above it. Similar to how Apple isn’t Steve Jobs, Java isn’t James Gosling, and Android isn’t Andy Rubin.
That being said, we’ve yet to hear what the next version of Android, dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich, brings to the table. It’ll merge the tablet and smartphone versions of Android, but beyond that … no idea.
[Additional reading: The Wall Street Journal]