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Java Developer : Article

McNealy at JavaOne: "Somebody Has to Be in Charge of Java, or No One Is."

McNealy at JavaOne: "Somebody Has to Be in Charge of Java, or No One Is."

Scott McNealy, chairman, president and CEO of Sun Microsystems, kicked off the second day of the 2004 Java Conference in what was largely a reshash of Monday's keynote by Jonathan Schwartz, with a few notable exceptions.

In front of an 80 foot-wide HDTV-driven screen, McNealy started out with his standard stand-up routine, railing against press and analysts, and his recent appearance in Playboy magazine about CEO pay, written by former US Labor Secretary and Brandeis University Professor Robert Reich.

One constant theme of the Sun keynotes this year has been the mantra that all things, digital, biological, powered and un-powered, will be connected to the network. He repeated Jonathan Schwartz's message from yesterday's keynote that Java is everywhere. Preaching to the choir, McNealy also repeated the litany of Java statistics, like 350 different Java phones on the market, and 600 million Java cards shipped. Interestingly, he offered no Java application server numbers, one area where Sun has struggled to gain a toe-hold.

Responding to criticisms that Sun is too protective of Java, McNealy declared: "Somebody has to be in charge of Java, or no one is." Reading from his standard blue note cards, he said. "I believe we've been an excellent steward of Java."


Photo: Bill Roth

"Some people wonder if we are going to make it. Sometimes I wonder if we're going to make it when I read the news papers," quipped McNealy. He responded with a list of financial numbers about Sun's cash position ("We have about $7.5 billion cash in the bank"), and underlined its 22% year on year growth in server unit volume. While this seems to indicate success, it does not address Sun's burdensome expense structure, which is among the highest in the industry.

Reminding everyone that Sun is hardware company, he mentioned the forthcoming 32-thread processor from his chip group.

He also addressed the recent ten-year Microsoft agreement, saying "It's a good thing."

"There are only two developer communities on the planet," he said. He suggested the Sun-Microsoft agreement would produce a larger available market for all developers and consumer technologies.

McNealy then launched into his standard history of open systems, defending a creditable record on open systems, open source and open communities. He rehashed Sun's history with NFS, TCPIP, OpenOffice.org and Java.net. He mentioned there are now 40,000 projects now on the Web site, which was launched last year.

He also gave a scorecard on the Java Community Process. McNealy gave the process high marks on community participation, and low marks the speed of the process. He then took the obligatory shots at Microsoft and Red Hat for not fully participating in the JCP.

Then came an awards section of the program. Krishnan Srinivasan of Frost & Sullivan, in a somewhat long-winded speech, presented McNealy with a Market Leadership Award in the smart card space. McNealy wisecracked, "It's not the Stanley Cup, but we'll take any award we can get."

McNealy brought up the inventor of Project Looking Glass, and then committed to open-source the project under the GPL license. This license could limit the adoption by enterprises concerned about the open source "infection" clauses of the license. It is suspected that the project will be dual licensed under another license in order soften GPL's effects.

Chris Melissinos, Sun's Chief Gaming Officer, came up on stage to show a few of the interactive games written on Java. He demoed several games, including two violent "1st person shooter" games. One of the founders of the Xbox, Kevin Bacchus of Infinium Labs, then unveiled a Java-based on-demand gaming box called "Phantom."

McNealy then did a section called "Where's the outrage?" mocking the article by Reich.

"Where is the outrage on stock options?" He earned applause from the crowd lambasting the US Congress for legislation moving though the legislative body which will require the expensing of stock options, thereby penalizing the employees of many high-tech companies.

"Where is the outrage on viruses?" he continued. He mentioned that viruses cost businesses and consumers $300 billion a year, and are a Microsoft, not a Java, phenomenon. 

In a speech largely without McNealy's usual invective, he saved his last outrage for IBM. "We want IBM to donate its own technology," he said, in comments targeted at Sam Palmisano of IBM. "Spare me, Sam," he continued, commenting on IBM's recent open letter to Sun.

In the final segment, the annual Dukie awards were handed out for outstanding achievement in the Java community. This year's winners included a Java parking ticket system, and a Java-based astronomy Web site called Slooh.com.

More Stories By Bill Roth

Bill Roth is a Silicon Valley veteran with over 20 years in the industry. He has played numerous product marketing, product management and engineering roles at companies like BEA, Sun, Morgan Stanley, and EBay Enterprise. He was recently named one of the World's 30 Most Influential Cloud Bloggers.

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Most Recent Comments
Bill Roth 07/01/04 03:55:18 PM EDT

Trenchant commentary indeed.....

wjl 07/01/04 07:43:55 AM EDT

just another one of those lewsers who don't know sh...
just my 2 cents,

wjl