James Gosling, the key developer of the Java platform while he was at now-defunct Sun Microsystems, said that Oracle, which bought Sun earlier this year, has an excellent understanding of the server-side Java but is confused about what to do with Java on desktops and mobile phones.
As the keeper of Sun's prized Java technologies, Oracle has a lot of say in how Java proceeds. Gosling, who briefly worked at Oracle after the merger but ended up quitting in April, offered a mixed outlook for Oracle's handling of Java when interviewed Tuesday at the Hadoop Summit 2010 conference in Santa Clara, California.
"The core VM on enterprise hardware, that's the core of their business. They understand that," Gosling said. "They will execute really well on that.
"Outside of that, when it comes to like the desktop stuff and the cell phone stuff, they find it very confusing," said Gosling. He is often called the father of Java, which was introduced in 1995.
Oracle will do an excellent job with the core JVM for server-side Java, Gosling said. But the non-server side of Java is "kind of a strange world to them," he said.
Java has had a strong presence on devices such as cell phones.
Oracle completed its $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun in January and has expressed commitments to Sun-driven technologies such as Java. The company also sponsored a recent update to the NetBeans IDE, of which Gosling has been a big fan. That update introduced features for JavaFX, which in turn includes multimedia capabilities based on Java.
An Oracle representative Tuesday declined to respond to Gosling's comments.
Currently, Gosling is taking a six- to eight-month break away from corporate life and is working on autonomous vehicle technology at Stanford University. An autonomous vehicle features a car without a driver. The Stanford project is Java-based, Gosling said.
"This one is actually a marketing stunt from a project that's funded by VW. They're trying to do the Pike's Peak road rally in a car with no driver at superhuman speeds," he said.