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The Boston Globe

Business

Oracle considered building phone

SAN FRANCISCO - Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison wanted to compete against Google’s Android software in the smartphone market before deciding instead to sue his potential rival for copyright and patent infringement.

Ellison acknowledged to the jury that Oracle’s interest in diversifying beyond its main business of database software in testimony Tuesday, the second day of a trial in US District Court in San Francisco pitting two tech bellwethers.

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Before backing off the idea, Ellison said Oracle considered buying a smartphone maker, including Palm Inc. or BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. Palm ended up getting sold to Hewlett-Packard Co. for about $1 billion two years ago, while RIM is trying to recover from huge losses as its devices lose sales to Apple’s iPhone and handsets running Android.

“It was an idea I wanted to explore,’’ Ellison said. “We explored it and decided it was a bad idea.’’

Ellison took the stand after Google sought in opening statements to frame the case as Oracle’s response to its own failure to build mobile software. Google chief executive Larry Page also took the stand toward the end of Tuesday’s session. The trial was expected to last up to 10 weeks.

The dispute is over whether Google built its widely used Android software by improperly taking some of the technology from Java, a programming platform that Sun Microsystems began developing 20 years ago. Oracle acquired the rights to Java when it bought Sun for $7.3 billion in January 2010.

Although Oracle has spent more money buying other companies, Ellison depicted Java as the company’s most cherished prize.

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