Does Sun make money out of Java?

Does Sun make money out of Java?

… or is that the wrong question?

It has been bothering me for a while that I can’t understand why Sun spends money on Java.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that they do.  But surely there is a wider financial goal rather than pure technology benevolence?

Thankfully the Java Posse posed the same question to Bob Brewin (CTO of Sun Software) in podcast #123.  The question was framed as to how the strategy compares to the South Park underpants gnome episode where the the plan was “1. Steal underwear, 2. ???, 3. Profit”.

Unfortunately the answer was fairly vague and basically came down to “volume equals profit”.  The theory seems to be that Java is part of a plan to create opportunities for hardware, services, training and consulting.  Seems to be a fairly roundabout way of making a market for yourself.  The ‘old’ way would be to focus on the products you are selling.  Make them better, cheaper, faster. Be better than your competition and let your potential customers know it.

If you take the strategy as read, Sun is supporting a language that works on any environment (many that Sun don’t have hardware for) for a range of customers (many that won’t ever need Sun services).  In essence, they are creating many market places, but only a small proportion of them are in a space where they actually compete.  To use a rock analogy, isn’t that like running and paying for an open air festival with free admittance just so you can be one of the acts?

In particular, where is the money for JavaFX Mobile?  Sun doesn’t make phone handsets (yet?).  Are they going to ask for licence fees?  Apparently not since it is open source.

So I mostly get why Sun pushes Java Enterprise.  It helps them push the hardware and services for high end applications in the corporate arena.  Along the way they also help every other hardware and software consulting business as well.

But why the focus on the desktop of late?  What’s in it for them if mobile handsets start running JavaFX mobile?  I still feel like I am missing something…

Mark Johnson
mark.johnson@shinesolutions.com

Mark Johnson is one of the Founders and Directors of Shine Solutions Group, a Technology Consultancy in Melbourne, Australia.

3 Comments
  • Kon
    Posted at 09:08h, 08 June Reply

    With regard to JavaFX Mobile, maybe Sun will set themselves up as a (‘the’?) certification authority for JavaFX Mobile OS flavours, and for J2ME applications also.

    If that’s the case, they wouldn’t provide that service for free. And I’d presume it wouldn’t be cheap either.

  • Ed
    Posted at 09:52h, 24 December Reply

    I’ve searched for this answer as well and so far this is what I’ve found.

    http://www.infoworld.com/article/06/01/06/73654_HNsunrevenue_1.html

  • Evolyte
    Posted at 08:05h, 09 July Reply

    Mobile Application Value Chain Explained…

    We like to think about the mobile app market from every possible angle, and consider anything, no matter how crazy, that may positively impact developer’s revenue share (trust us, we’ve had some zany ideas that will never see the light of d…

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