When Oracle bought Sun Microsystems in 2010 they also acquired, by default, one of its properties: Java, that is installed on roughly 70% of web browsers.
Java has been a hot issue in the press lately, not least because of Google and Oracle’s ongoing battle (referred to as “the world series of IP cases” by one U.S. federal judge) over whether Google’s Android operating system is infringing on Java-related patents and copyrights owned by Oracle. If appeals continue, the verdict may even be decided by the Supreme Court.
Soluto has always been Team Google in this case (mainly related to open source issues, and keeping APIs free of copyright protection so better software can be developed).
And now, Soluto has uncovered some disconcerting information for consumers about how Oracle runs its Java unit. One is reminded of Google’s “Don’t be evil” motto.
Every time a user is asked to update or install Java, Oracle bundles the Ask.com toolbar with the installation in a way showen by Ed Bott of ZDNet to be highly deceptive. We recently pulled some data from our database showing that from all Ask.com installations, 40% are caused by a Java update or install. And 30% of all Soluto users have or had the Ask.com toolbar installed on their browsers.
Why is this a problem? The toolbar takes over the browser’s default search provider and replaces it with the Ask.com search engine. Ask’s search is clearly inferior to Google’s search, giving users lower-grade search results and bombarding the user with banner ads, video ads, and in general a poor experience. It also tries to hijack the default homepage and depending on the browser – it often succeeds. Yet both Oracle and IAC make money from this installation. By our back-of-the-napkin estimate, Oracle probably makes a few hundred million dollars, and IAC makes money every time visitors click on paid ads.
The fact 59% of Soluto users choose to disable Ask.com toolbar for their customers shows how hated a piece of software this is. We believe most of the remaining 41% simply haven’t gotten to it yet.
Does Oracle fleece its customers for revenues in other ways? After two alarming quarters to shareholders, in which Oracle underperformed analysts’ expectations due to declining software license sales and cloud subscription sales, Oracle is clearly under pressure to keep profits up. Or is this simply mismanagement and more evidence that Oracle is on its way out among the elite group of tech heavyweights today?
Stay tuned for more interesting data,
The Soluto Team