Lots of people are getting into the weeds of this Oracle/Google/Java spat, it really is little more than a thinly veiled shakedown gambit. But when I look at it as the latest in a string of well publicized disputes between virtually every single major platform owner today and the developers trying to build on those platforms, as well as the major conflicts between potentially competitive platforms, I’m more concerned with the fact that we’ve recently moved into a new era of aggressiveness and heavy handed behavior by platform owners that we haven’t seen since the early 90’s. I used to suspect that many of the companies that were the most vocal in decrying Microsoft’s dominance back in the day would have behaved no differently than Microsoft if they’d had the ability to do so. Now, when I take a look at the way that every single platform owner of any significance is behaving, I realize that I was wrong, most of them would have behaved far worse.
Note: I’m not using the term “platform” in the way that every company with an API puffs up their chest and tries to claim, but to mean that the company and it’s technology have a meaningful ecosystem with a large base of third party vendors, partners, developers, and other participants, all of whom are earning a living (or at least trying to) on top of it. Platforms are ultimately markets, not technologies.