Tim Holloway wrote:Oracle had cemented its reputation as an Evil Empire long before they bought Sun/Java. Their business model comes from the mainframe world, where developers could be well-paid, a software product could cost $64,000 up front and $5000/month for support and nobody cared because it was all dwarfed by the million-dollar hardware expense of the mainframe. And when software vendors sold unique products and basically could hold IT managers hostage by simple vendor lock-in, but that was OK, because when you needed support, you didn't get a "please stay on the line. Your call is very important to us!" and an unintelligible monkey-with-a-script, you got an actual rep or even a team of them to show up on-site and fix things. And in Oracle's case, a lot of early revenue was from government contracts, where you can charge absurd amounts of money and only the taxpayer bats a eye.
And on top of that, Larry Ellison's biggest ambition all his life has to become richer than Bill Gates (or anyone else).
It was never a case of if Oracle would start to squeeze money out of their acquisitions, merely when and how. They didn't have a working model from Sun, or Sun wouldn't have ended up in a position to be bought by Oracle.
It had to be done carefully, though. Their spin of Red Hat Linux attracted no adoring mobs - most people preferred Red Hat itself unless they wanted an Oracle OS to run their Oracle databases. Their attempt to monetize Sun's OpenOffice was such a dismal failure that they ended up donating it to the Apache Foundation - too late, since the Oracle-independent Libre Office fork had already won over the open-source world. Likewise, probably more people run the MariaDB spinoff of MySQL than actually run MySQL itself.
The old idea of paying for software from a proprietary vendor is fading. Red Hat demonstrated that not only could you repackage free software and become a dominant technology vendor, you could even develop your own software and give it away too. And they don't have to send in license-enforcement stormtroopers like the BSA to do it.
It remains to be seen whether people will start migrating wholesale to open-source Java. Java is a very complex environment, and even after years of work, the open-source version has problems. But people are no longer impressed by heavy-handed tactics from hardware or software vendors. And they're not interested in paying large sums of money in an era when everything is supposed to be as cheap as possible. Especially when it's them that are among the things that aren't allowed to cost much.
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