Java Message Shifts to Profitability

SAN FRANCISCO (06/07/2000) - A new theme emerged at the JavaOne conference here this week: money.

For five years Sun Microsystems Inc. has nurtured an image for Java as a socially-responsible technology supported by a close-knit community of developers. In many ways the company has positioned Java as a kind of antidote to software from its rival Microsoft Corp., which Sun portrays as a money-mad monopolist.

Sun officials this week seemed to switch tack, trying to complement Java's righteous image with the message that the technology can also mean big profits for businesses and substantial rewards for developers.

"Clap if you are interested in personal wealth!" Pat Sueltz, president of Sun's software products and platform division, urged Java developers in her speech on the opening day of the show.

Earlier, attendees were shown a video in which a business used Java to help secure a last-minute, lucrative contract from a customer. "Java Technology -- Expanding Net Equity," was the message that flashed up on a giant screen beside the stage.

Even Bill Joy, Sun's soft spoken, sandal-wearing chief scientist, who is better known for his discursive lectures on the future of technology, got in on the money act. In a speech to developers this morning, he talked about a future world in which there will be six versions of the World Wide Web.

"Thousands of companies and probably trillions of dollars in wealth can be created in these Webs," Joy said.

Asked by reporters yesterday about the apparent decision to play up Java's financial potential, Scott McNealy, Sun's chairman and chief executive officer, seemed bemused.

"I'm not sure I know how to answer that," he said. "What can I say, I'm a capitalist and I'm not embarrassed by it."

Java developers aren't complaining, either. Roger Brown, a systems developer with Stockholm-based consulting firm Merkantil Data, said colleges can barely turn out enough Java developers to keep up with demand, meaning work is easy to come by.

"It's definitely a good time to be working in Java," he said.

Sun, in Palo Alto, California, can be reached at +1-650-960-1300 or at http://www.sun.com/.

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