Leading Web search provider Google Inc and No 2 business software maker Oracle Corp are not usually viewed as business rivals.
But a patent dispute between the two technology companies suggests they see each other as exactly that.
Oracle, led by its brash Chief Executive Larry Ellison, filed a lawsuit on Thursday that accuses Google’s increasingly popular Android mobile technology of violating patents that protect Oracle’s Java software.
The move pits two of Silicon Valley’s most successful companies against each other, as they expand beyond their traditional turfs in search of new growth opportunities.
Oracle bought the Java programming language through its acquisition of Sun Microsystems in January, gaining exposure to the fast-growing mobile phone industry, where Google’s Android mobile software is growing market share.
And Google, led by former Sun chief technology officer Eric Schmidt, is gradually gaining momentum in the enterprise computing market, where Oracle currently dominates.
“There is a battle emerging,” said ITIC analyst Laura DiDio. “If this were a hockey game, the lawsuit would be the face off to determine who will control the puck.”
Over the past five years, Schmidt has pushed Google to aggressively develop cloud-computing products for businesses, at a time when Oracle was treading more cautiously into the new space. Cloud computing systems process information over the Internet, storing data at remote facilities instead of local computer systems.
“Google is entering the enterprise market in a very subtle way,” said Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry. “You cannot underestimate Google, though, because they are a new generation company and their cost structure is a lot more efficient than Oracle’s.”
THE NEXT BATTLE: PHONES
The two emerging rivals are also jostling to expand sales of their technology to the consumer electronics market.