Last night I attended the launch of JavaFX in a bar in San Francisco. Pretty cool show put together by Eric and the Sun folks.
Jonathan Schwartz presented the product, the answer from Sun to Flash/AIR from Adobe and Silverlight from Microsoft (or are they the answer to JavaFX, who knows?). In a word, a set of tools for developers to build Rich Internet Applications (RIA).
He received loud cheers from the crowd when he moved one application out of the browser and into the desktop. It is not just cool. If you think about mobile, that is how you can create and deliver mobile widgets, without an app store. It is big.
He received my smile when he called IE and Chrome hostile browsers... Yep, let's free ourselves from the evil browsers ;-)
Jokes apart, what sets Sun apart is the legacy of the Java (and JavaME) installation. It runs on the billions of devices. And the declared goal of the platform: to run on desktop, browsers, mobile and TVs.
It is the dream of a developer. One platform to develop your app, and you have the entire world to deploy it on. It did not work that well on JavaME, because the "runs everywhere" story never materialized. I feel Sun has learned from that mistake and it should be much smarter this time.
The game is going to be played on mobile, of course. Developers here have reached the point of no return. Too many platforms to build on. iPhone and Android have made the number too large. There is nobody in the industry that can actually make money, being forced to support 10 different platforms (excluding someone who actually built a business around an open source project, ehm...). The market needs one big platform (although I just love fragmentation and what it has brought to Funambol ;-)
JavaFX could be that big platform. Sun needs to get device manufacturers to bundle it with devices, as they have been bundling JavaME so far. If that happens, Sun has a real big chance. It might be the one that will lift the company to its original glory.