Sure, now that the deed is done and the board has approved the acquisition, there’s lots of Monday morning quarterbacks. However, in this case, I’m not one of them. Indeed, I point to the release of my 9/1997 report that I wrote for NC.Focus entitled “State of Java Report: IBM” and the subsequent press release where I assert that IBM is leading in deploying Java in the Enterprise.
The story goes somewhat like this. On the day I released the report, I subsequently released the press release through PR Newswire, but it was also available on the IBM website. Within hours of posting the press release, IBM was contacted by Sun and told to remove the link to the press release on their website. Ultimately, Sun did not like the fact that I presented that IBM was doing a better job of monetizing Java in the Enterprise than Sun was, but that was the truth.
Now, Sun had some great hardware solutions; especially in storage, so not monetizing Java was not the only cause for their downfall, but I believe it was a primary cause for Sun’s eventual demise. My example is just one of my many interactions with Sun during my time as an analyst that demonstrated to me that Sun’s arrogance regarding their inability to understand how to monetize Java. I worked closely with Sun’s development tools group, who had a series of failed attempts getting businesses to adopt their development tools. This is in contrast to IBM, who’s WebSphere tools are spreading like a bad virus through the industry.
I believe had Sun been less arrogant and more open to seeking ways to better monetize Java, they’d still be a viable going concern today.