JavaOne: Obsolesence is Sun's biggest threat says McNealy

The biggest threat to Sun Microsystems is technological obsolescence company chairman Scott McNealy said this week to visitors to the JavaOne conference in San Francisco.

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The biggest threat to Sun Microsystems is technological obsolescence company chairman Scott McNealy said this week to visitors to the JavaOne conference in San Francisco.

"Technology has the shelf life of a banana," he said. “The biggest threat is that we don't stay focused on the (company’s) $2bn (£1bn) of R&D."

Despite voicing concerns about the future McNealy robustly defended the future of Java, against voices that said it would lose out to .Net.

"There 's no reason you need to bet all of your horses on one environment or the other, and 30 years from now Java's still going to be here and .Net's going to be here," he said.

Sun and Microsoft also work to bolster interoperability between the two platforms, McNealy noted.

Sun used the start of JavaOne event to announce it has finally made Java fully open source.

In his keynote address McNealy reflected on what he believes may have been two of the company's biggest mistakes: expecting PC manufacturers to jump on the bandwagon for Solaris on the Intel platform and not owning all the intellectual property within Solaris, which placed encumbrances on it.

Both mistakes have since been corrected, with Sun now offering its own Intel- and AMD-based hardware and acquiring Unix IP from Novell, McNealy said.

The Sun chairman enthused about the company's new JavaFX Script scripting language and rejected concerns that it might have trouble gaining traction in a crowded market.

JavaFX Script is a scripting language based on Java. But it faces off against a growing roster of dynamic scripting languages, including JavaScript, PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor), and Ruby, all of which have considerable followings

McNealy, however, sees the scripting language arena as having plenty of room for a newcomer, especially one based on an established platform. "It's a huge, burgeoning market," McNealy said.

"When you have a scripting language that can take advantage of billions and billions of Java runtimes out there, this is a unique and different model," he added.

McNealy said Sun can make money from JavaFX technologies in a similar manner to the way it's profited from open-sourcing its Solaris Unix OS. Users will need support contracts and perhaps servers and storage; Sun could get this business, he said.

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