Is Oracle going after Google because Ellison is buddies with Jobs?

At first, I thought this was just a silly rumor. But, after having several C-level executives tell me this theory, I began to seriously consider it.

I can think of all kinds of reasons why Oracle is suing Google over its use of its Java IP (intellectual property) in Android. Making money from its Java patents strikes me and most experts as the most likely reason. But, I've also heard suggested, time after time, that the real reason is that Larry Ellison, Oracle's CEO is buddies with Steve Jobs, aka Mr. Apple and he wanted to help Apple fight Android.

Could that be the case? Here's the logic that supporters of this theory use. First, Google and Apple are competiting head-to-head in the smartphone space. The iPhone certainly has more users, but the Android phone family is quickly catching up.

Even before this product fight really started going though; Apple was feeling the heat from competiting with Google. That's one reason why Steve Jobs kicked Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO, off of Apple's board.

Then, of course, this year, Google started talking smack about Apple. At the Google I/O keynote, Vic Gundotra of Google said that the world needed a second major mobile phone operating system because, "If we did not act, we faced a draconian future where one man, one phone, one carrier was the future. That's a future we don't want." Oh, did I mention he did this in front of a 1984 poster?

What goes around comes around Apple.

Since then the war of words has been growing increasingly heated between the two giants of Silicon Valley. The New York Times reported that Jobs told an all-hands meeting that "We did not enter the search business. They entered the phone business. Make no mistake: Google wants to kill the iPhone. We won't let them."

Since then, the two companies have started playing the "You started it! No, you started it fight!" For example, in July, Larry Page, one of Google's leading lights, said that Jobs' suggestion that Google was responsible for the animosity between the two companies by choosing to compete with the iPhone with Android was "a little bit of rewriting history."

Apple and Google are now fighting hard in the smartphone marketplace. If the rumors are true, Google will soon be striking back at Apple in the tablet space with a Google OS tablet. That's fine for the marketplace, but Apple didn't have a way of attacking Google and Android in other arenas. Such, as, oh say, suing Google for abusing patents. Enter Oracle.

It's no secret that Ellison and Jobs are friends. In a 2001 interview, Ellison even said, "Steve Jobs is my best friend, and I love him dearly, and he's one of the most remarkable people on this planet. You watch him create Apple, then in one of the worst human-resources mistakes in the history of Silicon Valley -- the only thing worse was when the French fired Napoleon -- they fire Steve Jobs and Apple almost completely disintegrates. Then he comes back and he saves a company that was on life support."

As far as I know, Ellison and Jobs are still close friends. They're also both passionate about their businesses and life. So, would Ellison 'help' Jobs by throwing a possible patent roadblock into Google Android's way?

I don't think that could be the only reason. Making Oracle more profitable is Ellison's job number one. But, I'm also sure that when the lawyers and accountants laid out the pluses and minuses of taking Google on, Ellison also considered that helping his best friend out would be a good thing too.

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