How Oracle Is Monetizing Java

Jane Seymour - maybe she can tell Java's future?

This image is Creative Commons.
Sun made money from Java by accident - Oracle is much more systematic than that.

Sun made money from Java because people used Java and if you are running Java than Solaris is the way to go - yes? That made sense then; it does not now. This is for many reasons, not least of which is Linux; however, the key reason being the Oracle expects each business unit to stand on its own feet (or at least that is what an ex senior Oracle manager once told me).

 Oracle has End Of Life'd Java 6 - all support and patches must now be paid for. 

How can Java make money for Oracle? 
"They give it away for free' surely that is no way to run a business". Some people feared that Oracle would stop giving it away for free - but that is not their game at all (though I will go back to this later). The are acting much more like Dr. Kananga by giving the product away, destroying the competition and then charging for it. 

Does Oracle Charge For Java? Yes - rather a lot by all accounts. Now that they have managed to get Java security center screen and thousands of free column inches plus countless Reddit rants FOR FREE discussing security they are have created a license to print money.

Oracle is running a protection racket - but no-one minds!

Don't get me wrong, I am not dissing Oracle here. If you believe doctors should work for free and the common good, then you can go die somewhere else. Equally, if you think Oracle should support your software for ever, for free, just go look what happend to Sun. Nope - now that support is center stage as a Java must have, why not use that to fund the whole project? 

Customers who do not upgrade need to pay maintenance for security patches, simples.

It get better though. There is positive feedback which makes Java better.

Oracle's plan is to use support to fun the whole Java project by making Java better - quite clever really.

The plan is simple:
  1. Make sure customers feel worried about not having support, especially security patches.
  2. Release a new version of Java every year.
  3. End Of Life older versions after the new version has been out for a year. This means - no free security or performance patches.
  4. Then, if you do not upgrade your version of Java every year, you will need to pay to have support and having support is the only security sensible way to go.
  5. If you are a large organisation, upgrading Java is actually very expensive. Much better to pay Oracle and not have to do it. If it works - don't fix it.
Hey, Oracle have realised that fear is the ultimate method of control. From control comes compliance and obedience  Much as the 'terrorist threat' has been used by governments the world over to strip agency from the populous and erode democratic freedoms, Oracle is using fear to drive commercial Java users to their checkbooks like so many willing sheep to the slaughter.

Does it matter?
No - it is brilliant! Oracle could have started to charge for Java. That would have caused the whole ecosystem to collapse like a house of cards in a stiff breeze. This approach, is so much better.
  1. It funds Java development.
  2. It give Oracle a great reason to release new versions every year. They need to fund Java to get better.
  3. It only targets large organisations which are reluctant (for good reasons) to keep upgrading. Hey - they should be getting proper support anyhow. Would you want your bank account to run on an unsupported platform?
  4. It makes Java stand on its own as a capitalist project rather than some waffly 'community project for the greater good' non-sense.
Where does this leave Oracle's Java tooling?
Selling seat license for development tools has not been a really good money spinner for a while now. The real place to make money is runtime licensing and maintenance. 

This might explain why Oracle seem to be struggling to port Jrocket Misson Control to Hotspot. It is still languishing in the Java 6 world of Jrocket. They cannot make money out of it and it does not act as part of a new Java version. No reason to spend money on it.

Similarly, Netbeans is not likely to move very far very fast either. Yes, Oracle need to keep it alive because otherwise Eclipse would have too much power over the Java ecosystem; but when embedding Chrome into a IDE is news - one can tell the IDE has little new to tell.

Conclusions:
Oracle have learned from MySQL how to monetize a product they give away. MySQL was used as a low end product. Java is a high end product, equivalent to COBOL in many ways, sitting in the beating heart of the worlds largest banks and companies. Applying the same techniques to Java will be a much better way to make money than selling addictive drugs to poor Americans in the 1970s.