Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oracle + Sun and mobile

I have read quite a lot of comments on the acquisition of Sun by Oracle.

Most have focused the analysis on MySQL, since it is actually a cool story: Oracle is taking off the market the #1 long-term competitor, one they wanted to acquire some time ago (for $850M, some say) before Sun got it for $1B. In a way, Oracle now bought the entire pie, getting the icing for free. Sweet.

Some are focusing on Java, simply because Oracle said that is the main reason for the acquisition. The focus goes quickly on Weblogic, the heavy reliance of Oracle on Java and so on. It makes sense.

However, there is a point nobody is discussing: what about the #1 money generator for Sun on the software side? I mean, JavaME, Java on mobile... Sun has made zero dollars (or so) on Java, outside mobile. It is a little secret, but Sun has made a ton of money of JavaME. Ton for my standards, of course. Some might object they could have made more. But they made a lot.

Moreover, Sun is the de-facto standard development platform on feature phones today. JavaME is on every phone. Yes, you might argue it is a mess (every phone is different) and that they are at risk of losing the battle on the smartphone front. But the smartphone world has way too many operating systems to keep going as it is. Developers are going nuts. The mobile market needs ONE platform.

Sun has been working on it for a while. The JavaFX effort is going in the right direction. They have a foothold in the mobile operators and device manufacturers. They are moving towards smartphones, unifying desktop, mobile and TV.

Yes, the future could be a full web development environment, as I wrote in the past. But, as there is room for Flash on desktops (it is not all Ajax), there is room for JavaFX on mobile. With the market penetration of JavaME, Sun is the company best positioned to make it. And let me remind you that mobile is the future of everything ;-)

Bottom line: acquiring Sun means for Oracle controlling a piece of the future of mobile. They have not been that active on it, beside some Service Delivery Platform offering. They now control a gem, on the client side. They have a critical presence around the future of computing.

I am expecting Oracle not to screw this up, actually the opposite. I believe when they say "We bought Sun for Java" they actually mean more "We bought Sun for JavaFX, and mobile in particular". They will invest in it, even more than Sun has done so far.

I would. Wouldn't you?