Thoughts from JavaOne

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When asked what the biggest difference between this year’s JavaOne and last year’s JavaOne, the answer is simple: the demos worked this year.

Ok, ok – just kidding. Having been on my end of too many demos that crashed and burned (not of course, due to anything I did), I have sympathy for both the SAP and Sun folks last year forced to recover from a misbehaving demo app. So it was good to see the demos work this year.

But there has been a real change – or more accurately, evolution – in messaging and theme. Last year, Sun unveiled with great fanfare a revamped Java logo and two new sites – Java.com and Java.net. These combined were part of a new push towards that audience that Sun had previously said they were uninterested in: consumers. And that theme is certainly prevalent here. Most of the conversation this morning was not on business portals or rich clients for the office environment, but handhelds, PDAs and automotive telematics.

While Sun may not see consumers as a massive direct opportunity, for them the economics are based on the community, the ecosystem. The idea is the more people on Java, the less people on Microsoft, the bigger their potential market. Pretty simple. But to me, the more important argument they’re making is around pricing.

Sun is trying – not by themselves – to shift the discussion of technology purchasing economics. Models are shifting from per unit, per CPU, per anything to ongoing subscriptions to packages. According to Sun, the days of per CPU pricing, as an example, are numbered. In doing so, they’re clearly borrowing from other industries, mostly notably telecom. A free handset becomes a free server, etc. Whether it’ll work seems to us to depend on the audience. Some people get it, some people don’t. But it’s certainly interesting to watch, and it’s certainly got people talking. More to come…

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