In the lawsuit between Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Oracle lost on almost every single point. They lost on their patent claims, and the claim that Google copied anything more than a few lines of code. The only hope of the company was in their APIs.
As a result of Judge Alsup’s decision, Oracle is clinging to the idea of protecting their Java APIs. This could cause problems for software developers due to the nature of APIs. Traditionally, APIs have not been about monetization. Instead, APIs act as a kind of communication channel between the developers and the providers of an implementation.
It takes a lot of work and expertise to create APIs. These APIs are created because these companies want developers to use them in order to access the implementation. Increased implementation by designers may act as an incentive for people to buy hardware and services. It may also be a more effective way to sell ads.
Thus, the API is not monetized, but the point is for the company to try to monetize what the API allows to be accessed. How successful an API is can be measured by how widespread its adoption is.
Now Oracle is trying to claim that developers need their permission in order to use the APIs that they have made an industry standard. Learning Java APIs is a huge investment as a developer, and it allowed the developers to work in the mobile marketplace, especially since Android adopted Java APIs.
As more companies move to a cloud-based service model, the question of APIs becomes even more important. If companies are allowed to use identical APIs, making it easy to switch between service providers, this will encourage competition and innovation. On the other hand, allowing API lock-in as Oracle wants may end up inhibiting competition.