Wednesday, May 17, 2006

My 2c on Sun, Java and (mobile) open source

JavaOne is in town. Everybody is excited about the announcement that Java will be open source. "It is not a matter of if, just how", said Jonathan Schwartz, Sun new CEO. I actually feel "when" matters even more than "if and how" these days, but that's a different story and many are writing about it ;-)
When I look at Sun, I see a big hole. They have the greatest tool of all time (Java), both on the server side (JavaEE) and the mobile side (JavaME). The JavaEE application servers are the backbone of the Internet. JavaME commands a 60% market on the device side. That's a lot of devices, considering we are close to sell one billion a year. Sun is potentially the Microsoft of both backend infrastructure and mobile. Sadly, they are not... Where is the hole? There is nothing in their product line to get data from a JavaEE server and put it on a JavaME device. Nothing that makes JavaME really useful and bridges it with the world of the JavaEE application servers.
Forget Java open source, this is way more interesting. You own two markets and you do not take advantage of that.  This is juicy stuff.
Obviously, I am biased. Funambol is the missing link in the Sun product offering. We have a JavaEE backend and we move data to JavaME devices. One day, someone called our product a J2ME server. I found it bizarre then, but it makes a lot of sense, if you think about it. Without data, a J2ME app is close to useless. If the future is in mobile widgets, as I believe, you need to pump data to a JavaME app. We have it all, we can get everything from a JavaEE server to a JavaME app. Funambol is the mobile open source application server with the largest mobile development community. We can make the strategy of Sun a reality... Scary, we can help them become Microsoft :-)
Anyway, I love Sun. I always did. I was one of the dumb people that developed code with Java alpha back at HP Labs. That screamed when beta came out and had nothing to do with alpha... I sold Sun boxes in Italy and I was heavily involved in an agreement with Sun while at Reuters, when we were selling E10K to financial institutions like they were lollipops (good old 2000 :-)
I heard Jonathan Schwartz for the first time at JavaOne, back in 2002 (I guess, I am getting old...). I was in a room for a press conference, faking to be a journalist since I had a monthly column on a wireless magazine. Scott McNealy was silent, Jonathan was doing all the talking. Crisp vision, great message. I thought: "this guy with the ponytail will be the next CEO, he is too good". I rooted for him since that day. It took him some years and he made it. Give him some time and he will figure out the hole. I just hope he will give me a call to plug it :-)