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"The obvious advantage is that you could keep running and supporting legacy applications, but at the same time benefit from new and more modern APIs, which are really widespread, well understood, and easy to use," Torre says. The project stalled, however. "The problem we had is that there is a very high entrance barrier, and since, at this early stage, the outcome for a possible adoption is still unclear, we didn't manage to attract a lot of developers." There was a lot of interest in the Daneel Dalvik-to-Java bytecode converter that was part of the project, he says.
While some observers see obvious benefits for OpenJDK on Android, a developer who's organized both Java and Android user groups sees the current setup, which leverages Dalvik, as superior. "It's way less memory-intensive than standard Java would be, including OpenJDK-based Java," says Aleksandar Gargenta, organizer of the San Francisco Android User Group and the San Francisco Java User Group. A technologist with open source technology trainer Marakana, Gargenta also favors Dalvik's security model, which allows applications to be sandboxed. "Dalvik is technically superior for the model that Android offers," says Gargenta.
As far as OpenJDK opening up Android to Java developers, Gargenta says they already have access: "Java developers already know the language necessary to develop for Android." Developers write in Java and the code is packaged for Android. Regardless, Gargenta does not see OpenJDK happening for Android.
Industry analysts in the software development space did not have much optimism to add to the debate.
"I think the Java on Android ship has sailed and survived a major 'engagement' with Oracle," says analyst John Rymer, of Forrester Research. "I suppose OpenJDK could seek to provide an alternative Java environment but I don't see it happening. First, why would [developers] care? Second, Oracle and IBM are uninterested in 'clients', as they monetize servers." Also, OpenJDK is late on its road map and mobile would be a distraction," Rymer argues. He also argues that Oracle bans the kind of innovating-on-core that produced Google Dalvik, so partners could not do the port independent of Oracle.
IDC analyst Al Hilwa says he is not sure Oracle wants anything to do with Android yet. He also cites potential open source licensing issues: "In theory, [OpenJDK for Android] is possible, but someone is going to have to write or port a lot of low-level code to access mobile specific capabilities related to smartphones. GPL licenses often restrict vendors from monetizing the code in certain ways without making it also open source, so that might be another factor."
Sellers, though, sees an opportunity for the community at large. "Maybe people in the community will take on their own [initiative] to do it." A handset manufacturer might even be up for the task, says Sellers.
This article, "Open source Java for Android? Don't bet on it," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.