The one great byproduct of lawsuits in Silicon Valley is that they often reveal a great deal of interesting information that companies would rather keep tucked away from the prying eyes of the public. For instance, Apple’s lawsuit against Samsung revealed an absolute avalanche of previously top-secret information about Apple products, along with information surrounding the company’s operations and design process.
The most recent example of a lawsuit bringing confidential information to the surface comes to us courtesy of Oracle’s patent infringement lawsuit against Google regarding Java. Just last week, an Oracle attorney disclosed, for the first time, key financial details about Google’s Android business that has long been subject to immense speculation.
In an effort to prove the commercial importance of Java as it pertains to Android, an Oracle attorney revealed that Android, since 2008, has generated $31 billion in revenue and $22 billion in profits for the search giant.
Google, naturally, was none too pleased with the revelation, with Bloomberg noting:
“Google urged a San Francisco federal judge on Jan. 20 to redact and seal portions of the public transcript of last week’s hearing, saying the Oracle attorney improperly disclosed “extremely sensitive information” from documents that were marked “Attorney’s Eyes Only.”
And now, of course, it’s all too late.
With financial information about the profitability of Android no longer a secret, there’s a whole lot to take in and discuss. On one hand, Google’s rumored $50 million acquisition of Android seems like the steal of the century.
On the other hand, Google’s profits from Android amounts to nothing more than chump change compared to what Apple makes with the iPhone. Admittedly, the comparison isn’t entirely fair (Apple makes its money on hardware, after all), but the difference in profits between Android and the iPhone is so large that we’ll highlight it for you anyways.
As a quick aside, John Gruber of Daring Fireball raises an interesting point explaining why such a comparison is of interest.
It highlights the fundamental difference between the PC and mobile eras. In the PC era, Microsoft generated more revenue and far more profit than any hardware company, including Apple.
To put Google’s Android business in perspective, Apple during its last quarter alone, generated more iPhone-based revenue ($32 billion) than Android has generated for Google for its entire existence.
Furthermore, if we take a look at the following Statista chart which maps out iPhone revenue from 2007 through 2015, we see that Apple, as early as 2011, was generating more revenue from the iPhone than what Android was able to accomplish in over seven years.
The iPhone during Apple’s last holiday quarter alone generated 165% more revenue than Android has ever generated for Google. Again, this is admittedly not an apples-to-apples comparison, but it truly goes to show where the real money in tech is to be had these days.