Sun has great friends, but business plan still a mystery

At the JavaOne keynote this held at the Moscone Center this morning, EVP of software Rich Green took the stage and told the assembled crowd, mostly developers, "Welcome to the revolution. Businesses used to drive technology adoption, but now it's all about consumers." Which suggests the company, known historically as an enterprise hardware and software provider, is changing focus to enable more consumer-focused applications. Not mentioned? Last week's announcement of a $34 million quarterly loss and a stock price that has hardly improved since plummeting 20 percent. But look everybody, Neil Young!

The company then trotted out the likes of Ian freed, Amazon.com's VP on the Kindle project, and Rikko Sakaguchi, SVP at Sony Ericsson, to explain how their devices were using Java. A Sun software engineer and designer showed off Java-powered apps, such as the ConnectedLife widget which travels from Facebook to desktop client to mobile device. (He did not mention that Facebook has dropped support for Java.) Green announced that the latest build of the Java software was available today, and that the developers suite, OpenJDK, now supports popular Linux distributions Ubuntu and Red Hat, with a Fedora release within a month.

A software-emulated mobile device was shown running Google's Android — presumably the two companies have made nice. But beyond the OpenJDK announcement, nary a word was spoken about the enterprise market and if any role for Java in datacenter applications was mentioned, I missed it. I was listening for Green or CEO Jonathan Schwartz to say something, anything, about the company's quarterly earnings and new revenue streams. Instead, he talked about how the latest Java releases will be free and open-source.

I guess the company will make their coin providing support to the device manufacturers who use the JavaME mobile platform or the JavaFX suite of multimedia tools — competing with other application development environments such as Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight. Problem is, Sun's tools for content developers require a level of Java expertise well above that required by Adobe's easy-to-use Flash tools, and both Flash and Silverlight are also being licensed for free to device manufacturers. But hey, did we mention Neil Young?