Dana Blankenhorn:

The world of open source software is based on one truth above all.

No takesie-backsies.

Once code goes open source it doesn’t go back. You can create a new version, create a new license around it, and sell that. But the old code remains free to see, free to fix, and free to change.

Oracle hates open source with a passion. Nothing else represents such an existential threat. Oracle’s business model is based on charging high and rising prices for its database software. If someone could create an alternative that was free, Oracle couldn’t exist.

So, Oracle took direct action. It bought Sun Microsystems, at the time a primary supporter of open source, in 2010 and closed its projects’ source code. The Sun Solaris operating system didn’t survive. The Open Office code base was eventually forked but isn’t a big factor in the market. The big get was Java, originally created as a “write once, run anywhere” environment but, by 2010, a primary language for servers.

Oracle closed the code by declaring the Application Program Interfaces (APIs), the instructions showing how the code worked, could be copyrighted. To Oracle, this now meant that any code whose creation relied on those APIs belonged to Oracle.

[…]

Fortunately, today’s software industry doesn’t rely on companies like Sun, thanks to the suit and the possibility Oracle might have won. Software companies no longer write code, declare it open source, and run the group behind it. Today that’s done by foundations like Linux, Apache, and Eclipse, which promise to protect projects from such poaching.

In the end, software found a way around Oracle’s attempt to close open source. But it was a close-run thing.

LG once out-iPhoned the iPhone. Now it’s exiting the phone business completely

Roger Cheng, CNET:

In January 2007, a consumer electronics giant announced the world’s first full touchscreen phone. Critics showered it with praise for its bold and sleek design. It launched a few months later and became a big hit. But this wasn’t Apple. LG Electronics pioneered this breakthrough, collaborating with luxury brand Prada on a phone with a capacitive touchscreen – the type found on all modern smartphones – that hit the market just before the original iPhone. 

The Prada Phone garnered accolades before the iPhone was even a thing, with an early design mockup winning an iF Product Design Award in 2006 in Germany. But that didn’t matter. When Steve Jobs took the stage – also in January 2007 – at Apple’s then-annual Macworld conference with the iPhone in hand, he changed the world.

I must admit that I’d completely forgotten about the LG Prada. It turns out that I’m not the only one.

The ignominious end to LG’s phone business is fitting considering its two decades as a handset maker that continuously tried — and failed — to reach that upper strata of cellphone players. The company never fully capitalized on the household name recognition built on a family of products that includes televisions, laptops, washing machines and kitchen appliances. Furthermore, it was beset by an inferiority complex to crosstown rival Samsung.

Instead, LG’s history with phones ping-pongs between dealing with existential threats and eking out moderate hits just successful enough to keep it in the game as a second-tier player. It shares a similar story to Motorola and Nokia, feature phone stalwarts that were swallowed up by the disruptions brought on by the smartphone. While LG never enjoyed their heights of success, it did manage to survive longer.

What a strange epitaph: “We survived longer than Motorola or Nokia.”