The Question Isn’t Where, It’s When…

The CTO of a big media company presented me with a challenge recently, which gave new meaning to the word “convergence.” I thought I’d use his story to put into context what Sun announced today at JavaOne (what’s become the world’s largest open source developer conference).

First, his business model: his employer was paid every time an item in their content library (say, a new first run movie) was displayed to a user. Independent of whether the user viewed the content on a satellite network, a cable set top box, via DSL on a home PC, through an in-car navigation system or airline seatback (you get the drift, the network is the movie theater). He wanted to reach as many consumers as possible, wherever and whenever he could.

That said, for every movie he added to his library, he had to encode the file into a dizzying array of file formats. Some 20 or 30 if he wanted to reach all his audiences – across PCs, phones, set tops, game machines, etc. The format proliferation was costing him a fortune in storage, and the complexity and expense of encoding and decoding the various media streams was driving his computing purchases at an incredible clip. 1,000,000’s of subscribers, 10,000’s of titles and 100’s of devices and file formats – the multi-dimensional matrix was exploding, yet, as he pointed out, delivered no real value to his customers. Customers don’t care about movie formats, they care about movies.

Reciprocally, advertisers don’t care, either – they care about reaching consumers, not devices.

And if you wanted to know my three sentence summary of the global battle, the battle to reach consumers that fed this challenge and spawned the focus behind what we’re announcing today at JavaOne, it’s this:

1. Businesses want direct relationships with their consumers – the internet provides access and opportunity.

Whether you’re a media company showing a movie, a car company running an ad, a global telco or a startup presenting a new network service – the internet has become an obvious vehicle to engage consumers. And not just on PC’s – looked at globally, phones matter more in this debate than PC’s. Why? Because most of the world already experiences the internet through a phone. Today. And may never own a traditional PC.

2. Technology companies enable the devices through which enterprises connect with consumers.

These companes come in two basic forms: consumer electronics companies, building phones and set tops and nav systems and PCs – frustrated by the format wars described above; and more valuably (at least to Wall Street), a small number of technology and service companies aggregating consumers in front of those devices.

3. The largest and most powerful technology companies are using their products and services to disintermediate businesses that want direct relationships with consumers.

And therein lies a market opportunity for one of these:

What is it?

It’s a phone running Sun’s new JavaFX Mobile software, a member of the JavaFX product family we announced this morning.

What’s JavaFX? It’s a software product from Sun that allows any consumer electronics manufacturer to accelerate the delivery of Java/Linux based devices, from phones to set tops and dashboards and everything else imaginable. Without fear of format lock-in or disintermediation from a competitor. JavaFX is a product (not simply a technology), built on Java Standard Edition (the Java platform running on your desktop computer), that unites billions of Java SE and Java Micro Edition devices (Java Micro Edition is what runs on most of the world’s mobile handsets).

JavaFX provides a complete and fully open source platform for device manufacturers, content owners and service operators wanting to reach consumers with interactive content – and control their own destiny.

In the eyes of the consumer, devices are converging – where you want to watch a movie, play a game or connect with friends – or where an advertiser seeks to reach you – presents a less interesting question, today, than when. You can watch a movie in your living room, on a big flat panel display. But when you leave for work, you’d prefer to use your mobile to watch the last 15 minutes on the subway. On the way to work, an advertiser might want to reach you on a billboard or taxitop, or insert an ad into the video stream you’re watching. And once at work, you might want to join a fan network or write a review (on your lunch break, of course). Consumers (like advertisers and operators) want the experience to be simple, secure and coherent. And device independent.

Sound familiar? It is – this was the original vision behind the Java platform – Write Once, Run Anywhere. For software. And with the convergence of media and application formats, and the rise of open source software (think about it – Linux and OpenSolaris are the ultimate in user generated content), the market seems ready. We can deliver a complete product, OS and all, that eliminates the risk of fragmentation among network clients, accelerates the availability of Java/Linux devices, fuels the free and open source developer community – and already has the mass and momentum to reach the global consumer.

JavaFX radically lowers the bar to building a Java technology enabled device – and radically lessens the expense and complexity of reaching consumers. Backed by a company with no agenda to disintermediate content owners, and every interest in propelling the open source community (every portion of the content Sun contributes to the JavaFX product and community will be via the GPL license, at the core of Java and GNU/Linux).

But that’s not all we announced. Although the Java platform has been technically effective over the past decade, in opening markets and creating value, it’s been the province of… well, folks who could sling Java code. Highly technical individuals who saw themselves as software developers – not web authors or creative professionals. And that changed, today, too.

JavaFX Script is a simple scripting language designed to bring the benefit of the Java platform to creative professionals and web authors – independent of the device or audience they target. JavaFX Script adds to the list of languages already supported in the Java Virtual Machine, from PHP and Ruby, to Javascript and JavaFX Script – and brings the power, security and extraordinary popularity of the Java platform to those at the forefront of convergence: those defining interactive content for consumers.

You can get more detail here, but the focal point of JavaFX Script isn’t simply to enhance the Java platform – it’s to amplify Java’s role on the consumer internet, unify content and devices, and extend the reach and value of the billions of existing Java runtimes in the marketplace. All of which will be JavaFX Script enabled. The intent is simple: to stake the Java community’s natural claim to lead the debate surrounding rich internet applications at the heart of Web 2.0.

With the rise of JavaFX, JavaFX Script, JavaDB, Glassfish and NetBeans – there should be no doubt where we’re headed with Java. Everywhere.

Or when we’re heading there.

Right now.


Filed under General

42 responses to “The Question Isn’t Where, It’s When…

  1. “think about it – Linux and OpenSolaris are the ultimate in user generated content”
    Oops, you forgot about the “content” part. Operating systems are infrastructure, not content.

  2. This is great news! Really great news!
    The only thing I ask… no, make that *beg*, is that some resources are made available to fix the issues surrounding Java in the browser…
    That means, for example: super-fast start-up (and no browser lockup during startup); no ugly pop-up dialogue boxes asking questions the consumer doesn’t understand, thereby ruining the consumer experience; customisable “look” for the startup, to give the impression of faster startup; and, maybe even support for streaming audio and video encoded with Open Source codecs.
    Of course, we all operate in resource-constrained environments. However, in the grand scheme of things, making progress in these areas doesn’t need huge resources. I suspect the return on investment would be amazing. The difference, perhaps, between Java being, frankly, *nowhere* in the browser, and it being errr… Everywhere.
    It’s great to see Sun being up for the competition in this area with Java. Please keep up the great work!

  3. So does this give us the portable electronic medical record with contactless payment at the provider’s point of service tapping the healthcare savings account?

  4. [Trackback] [Jonathan Schwartz (r) chatting with Walt Mossberg] Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz has a good piece ostensibly supporting Sun’s JavaOne announcements. But the quote that grabbed me–tossed in as an aside,was a parody on Sun’s old ad campaign,Th…

  5. Jonathan,
    Just a quick note that the first link in your article is broken for the RSS feed. The link shows up as “ HERE”.
    Downloading JavaFX now to see what it is like…

  6. Nice move by Sun. But still missing a lot of information pointers, about what devices would it support, is it for OEM’s only or an open platform for developer communities.

  7. David

    Sound great!!!. Congratulations. Nice mobile too

  8. Bill_Wizo

    Sun averages (net) $700.000.00 a day, seven days a week for 90 days!! Very good,but hopefully more than .02 a share in the near future. i have faith in Sun, but my wife’s faith is wearing thin!! 8>) Here’s hoping the best for all us Sun longs!!

  9. Suresh Kumar

    HP raised its financial forecast after an internal email was “mistakenly” sent outside the company; the upbeat result was due to their strong PC sales!!
    I wonder if this is an accident or on purpose, is HP trying to make a point that PC still rules?

  10. Why not mention the phone by name, since it’s a fantastic idea that should be publicized more?
    The phone is the Neo1973, made by FIC, running an OpenMoko (Linux-based) environment, using only hardware that we have open-source kernel drivers exists for. There’s a GPS that we don’t have a free driver for yet, but that runs in userland.
    – Chris.

  11. Serge

    Apple iPhone comming in June. With JavaFX – iPhone could be buid by everyone around the world! Bravo Sun!

  12. Pramod Chandersekhar

    Reasons why Flex/Silverlight has a much better future compared to JavaFX
    1. JavaFX does not yet have a clean GUI Editor like Matisse (desperately needed, designers cannot deal with the syntax)

    2. JavaFX at first sight does not seem to be a strongly typed language, this is probably going to be sold as a + for non-developers, but it is going to be a pain in the neck to create a good clean IDE with intelli-sense (like Flex Builder) for JavaFX because of the loose typing. And without good support developers are going to messup and blame it on JavaFX.

    3. The Swing Default Look And Feel sucks (the best word I can come up with). People create a new UI with JavaFX – the default look and feel is going to look like shit and this will get blamed on JavaFX and hence propagate the reason why Java GUIs did not catch on.

    The bottom line, JavaFX has not really addressed the real issues why Java on the Desktop did not work – Sun does not understand good Look and Feel and so the saga is going to continue.

    It is not too late to fix it though. Here are a couple of simple steps

    1. Hire a good design team to make Swing’s default look and feel look good.
    2. Ask the Netbeans team to design a GUI Editor with the same kind of support for the developers/designers as Flex Builder – but here is the catch allow them to tweak the JavaFX language.

  13. Jay

    Sounds like that JavaFX is Sun’s attempt to replace Applet. Still not a word about new Media API that will support video and sound. JMF is old to play today’s game. Adobe has a Flash player and Microsoft has a Media player. We shall see what JavaFX can offer in the future in order to support true rich client applications with video and sound. Hope that future is not a too far distance.

  14. a java guy

    JavaFX is indeed strongly typed:
    It would be nice if there were xml literals like E4X or VB 9.0. Using the DOM is such a pain in the ass.

  15. Bob

    The phone is photoshopped. It is the FIC Neo. There is no Java on that platform, much less JavaFX.

  16. > The phone is photoshopped. It is the FIC Neo. There is no Java on that platform, much less JavaFX.

    I agree that it is photoshopped, but from hanging around the OpenMoko developers, it seems that Sun developers have one of the developer phones, and do have Java (and JavaFX?) running on it. They probably didn’t have to write much device-specific code — the phone runs standard ARM Linux binaries.

    – Chris.

  17. This is a great idea….but what took it so long?
    This should have been introduced at least 3 years ago?
    Why so late into the game?

  18. LaxmanB

    Please get the deployment right… Smaller runtime downloads, easier updates, faster loadups in the browser…

    And does the Java FX Mobile interface need to be so… iPhone-like??

  19. WhatNeedsToBeDone

    OK, so how much revenue does Sun expect (hope/pray?) that this latest, desultory, endeavor will bring in over the next 10 years? As much as Java has brought to Sun over the last 10? As much as IBM, BEA, and Oracle have made off Java over the last 10 years? I can’t wait to see how much this affects SUNW.

  20. When .NET was released, lots of my friends said that Java was doomed and .NET was the way to go. I didn’t listen to them, and now Java is open source and getting in everywhere, just like I predicted. Looks like I made the right technology choice for my company after all!

  21. José Eduar Yaima

    Hi Jonathan, i got an idea that will change education and educational software paradigma. i need to contact you. thanks.

  22. Carlos Barbosa

    I really like the concept of mobile unification, i really loved sun, whish i could work for you guys. thank you 4 sch great software

  23. Noel Poore

    As former VP Engineering at SavaJe and the person who ported the telephony software to the Neo 1973 I can assure you that although the picture above is synthetic (have you ever tried to take a good hi-res photo of a running handset?) the software is for real. Here is the first part of the trace output from the all-Java Phone Service as it starts up…

    Got ready message: AT-Command Interpreter ready

    1200485: ResponseManager.init done
    PhoneSvcProc:channelInit: starting connection
    sendToPhone: wrote ATE0
    RX ATE0
    RX OK
    1200551: PhoneSvcProc: Initializing PhoneConnectionPool
    1200558: PhoneSvcProc: phoneStartup
    sendToPhone: wrote AT+CMEE=1
    ====== Locale = en_GB_TW
    ====== Timezone = Asia/Hong_Kong
    RX OK
    sendToPhone: wrote AT+CMER=2,0,0,2,0
    RX OK
    sendToPhone: wrote AT+CIND=5,1
    Starting Display: [Lcom.savaJe.grl.DisplayMode;@6410e6e8
    default mode=0
    Setting mode
    Setting up display for double buffering w/h=480/640
    RX OK
    sendToPhone: wrote AT%CGREG=2
    RX OK
    sendToPhone: wrote AT+CSCS=”HEX”
    RX OK
    sendToPhone: wrote AT%CPI=2
    RX OK
    sendToPhone: wrote AT%CSTAT=1
    RX OK
    sendToPhone: writing AT%SATC=1,3FDFFF7F7F03005F63000200000A920600
    RX OK
    sendToPhone: wrote AT+CLIP=1
    RX OK
    sendToPhone: wrote AT+CREG=2
    RX OK
    sendToPhone: wrote AT+CFUN=1
    RX %CSTAT: PHB, 0
    RX OK

    You may notice some SIM Toolkit initialization in there – one benefit of an all Java Phone Service is that it ports pretty quickly and it is a very complete implementation so things like CPHS, SIM Toolkit and a lot of supplementary services are already supported.

    Java FX Mobile is very real and I am very excited to working on it. If you go to and watch the “Deep Dive Part 4” from Bob Brewin’s keynote you’ll see three handsets running Java FX Mobile including a demonstration of telephony on the Neo 1973.

  24. Gil

    View from the cheap seats. Is Sun moving in the right direction for the long run on the software side? Looking at the most profitable businesses in software…OS, Database and Search I would give Sun a thumbs up on the OS side only with Solaris 10 and now JavaFX. Gil

  25. lar

    Looks good and reminds me of something HP did on the Jornada in the late 90s. They had their own embedded Java called Chai running on Linux. They put this on the Jornada and built the entire UI and apps on top of that. They couldn’t bring it to market because of some issues with licensing Microsoft WindowsCE for other models of Jornada. Or so the story goes.

    JavaFX in this configuration makes sense to me but hopefully, it’ll make cents to everyone involved and can actually build a market.

  26. Peter Firmstone

    Thankyou, you wonderful developers, I’m looking forward to being able to write simple business client applications based on open standards that can run on phones, the desktop and on webclients with minimum effort.
    I have one request, can you create a standard expansion port interface for phones? With the ability to connect the phone to your car kit with a 7inch display on the dash for map navigation, movies, business apps etc. For home or office, a docking station with a large display, keyboard and mouse (without the need for a PC!) for internet apps etc… or where ever else one so desires, with one plug!

  27. Gary

    You seem to be missing a key piece of technology in your Java FX, a media codec?

  28. Azrul

    If supporting media is my concern than Java (in its current form) would be the last option I would take. The dire state of JMF and the incoherent support for media on midlets (especially streaming media) is enough to send a developers running screaming for their very life.
    If JavaFX needs to be successful, Sun must play a bigger role in the media/mobile industry.
    1) Fix JMF, allow it to use any codec installed on the machine (yes, this is easier said than done). Bundle JMF as part of JavaFX.
    2) To be fair, the incoherent media support on midlets is not directly Sun’s fault, but Sun needs to have more control on KVM implementations much like Microsoft control their device partners.

  29. thank you very very much thank you very very comment…

  30. This is a great idea….I really like the concept.

  31. Chris

    “Businesses want direct relationships with their consumers – the internet provides access and opportunity.”
    Slight revision from your statement but here goes: Also, we want relationships with you. I had some dissatisfaction recently and someone noted this and contacted me from your startup program and was most gracious with the information I neeeded. Then I had an issue with a sale order that was resolved to my satisfaction by someone in the SunStore. Good customer service makes a huge difference. I’m excited about the technology you guys are rolling out and JavaFX is yet another cool idea. Others seem mainly to be extending marketing but you are extending technology. Kudos to you.

  32. Anonymous

    I am attending JavaOne for the first time this year. On Tuesday I was impressed by Jonathan Schwartz’s comments about being responsible to humanity. The spokesperson for the United Nations even made a direct comment that the gender inequality of women was totally unacceptable. Hearing this as part of a keynote from the CEO of a technology company was surprising and impressive. Sun had really impressed me. That was until tonight. Tonight was the JavaOne “Party”. After calling my wife and kids, I walked into the event. I watched the KISS impersonators with amusement, then lined up to watch the BattleBots. The carnage of the robots was very entertaining. Then in an abrupt change of venue, the good fun event turned into a sexually explicit strip show with “Grinder Girl” running a grinder over her metal clad genital area. I was stunned. When I recovered, I started feeling cheated and betrayed. I was thrust into a situation where my ethics against objectifying women and remaining loyal to my wife (watching an exotic dancer is a betrayal of her trust) were being challenged. I looked around at the women in the crowd. They were both embarassed and shocked.
    This is an industry that is struggling to attract women and minorities, and Sun Microsystems puts on an exotic dancer at one of the largest technology shows in the Industry. That is despicable.
    As if this weren’t enough, it isn’t the first time. While a co-worker and I were leaving he told me about a conversation he had with a lady in one of the technical sessions. He asked if she was going to the party, and she said no. Last year she attended the party and was horrified when there were barely dressed dancers walking around on stilts handing out lolly pops. She wrote a full page complaint on the conference evaluation form about her embarrassment and humiliation.
    There was no need for this display of sexual content. The guys hooting and hollaring at the exotic dance show were just as vocal at the robots getting destroyed, so it didn’t really add much for them. But for the women in the crowd, it humiliated, and allienated them. For the husbands in the crowd, we were caught in a situation that betrayed the trust of our wives. For the kids in the crowd (and I saw a few), they got exposed to sexually explicit content. The only person that seems to have benifited from this display is who ever approved hiring exotic dancers to please there own desires.
    Please don’t repeat this offense next year, and please respect the women and married men at your conference that trusted that a company that claims to have humanities best interest in mind, would not hire exotic dancers for an international multi-cultural and multi gender event.

  33. Dear Jonathan Schwartz,
    (Please feel free to suppress this comment if it is overboard or inconvenient.)
    You are nice guys. Very nice guys. And your attorneys need to say just that in their safe harbor statement.
    I watched the Java FX web casts of Java One after seeing the picture of the phone in your blog. The phone looks great. If I understand right, it is not a phone, but a computer wrapped up in a mobile phone frame. This computer aka phone features a complete software system as in a desktop or notebook? With such features as the ability to make phone calls thrown in?
    If Sun is the first company to come up with this “complete operating and application environment in a mobile phone”, complete with multitasking, drag and drop interoperability with the desktop, then it is not another phone, it is a DISRUPTIVE innovation.
    That makes Java FX mobile a very valuable property, together with the Java name.
    Looks like Sun is giving it all away. Sun has opened up the phone for OEM licenses, open sourced Java FX mobile platform. It may have its own revenue model, but I really can’t understand how it works. Sun has been hugely successful in its mission to open up technologies. I am overwhelmed to watch the success of your attempts to usher in the participation era. The participation part of open source is amazing, but the business part of Open Source is evolving.
    Open source is 20, 25 years old, and the world has been doing business for 5000 years on a certain model, so open source is a new born. I would embrace, may be even nurture Open Source, but with a bit of caution, caution that it is a new religion founded yesterday. I would wait and observe how it evolves during the next 200 or 300 years (not 2000 or 3000 years, because and only because, it happens to be the computer industry which progresses swiftly) before dismissing models such as proprietary models of business as anachronistic. A company such as Sun Microsystems that takes a lead in Open Source may have to be exemplary in its adoption, but still needs a bit of balance…
    It is Ok to have open sourced Java FX script and Java FX mobile. It is Ok to have opened up the phone for OEM licences. But if I owned as many as one share of Sun Microsystems I will ask you to give me one good reason as to why you are not making the phone in-house or by outsourcing to a company like Ericsson. I will ask you to give me one reason as to why you are not introducing it as a product of Sun Microsystems as Java Phone, called Java Phone, branded Java phone. There is so much money in phones with its 10 digit user size. Sun has everything. All it takes is a good copywriter to write a headline and a baseline and some body text to sell half a billion Java phones a year.
    Apart from money, another argument is that it is a disruptive technology that takes the OWNER to take the lead. If a third person buys a license he may not make a phone with the kind of display and memory and processing power as your phone developers would like to see.
    The first Java phone has to be from Sun, rest of the world may buy licenses to make more phones, but not the Java Phone called Java Phone…

  34. This is great…a bit late but never mind. I’m not sure I understand where the revenue is really coming from but I’m sure you do. Looking forward to using it for some simple games and movie applications.

  35. smathew

    Applaud the move to supporting complete software stacks in the mobile space. You will compete with Symbian, Motorola’s Linux and Windows Mobile but if you are serious about sticking with this strategy that is the only way to go. Maybe you can convince MOT and NOK to jointly develop this with you? You have to have skin in the game if you want developers and your customers to take you seriously.

    Also, please consider the synergies between JavaFX script, Project Looking Glass and Project Indiana. Maybe you can think of releasing a coherent, easy to use, desktop edition of the JavaFX family?

    Again, if you want developers, device manufacturers, service providers and consumers to take Sun seriously in the consumer software business you need to invest appropriately, have the appropriate organizational structures and, most importantantly, listen. As a long time ex-Sun employee I have seen too many half-hearted attempts with Java Desktop system, Java station, picoJava etc.

  36. Great looking phone. Thanks for all the positive developments too.

  37. Kevin

    A tiny bit of Zen advice for you: you are what you are not.

  38. i like the looks of the new java fx enabled mobile phone.

  39. Bob B.

    I’m tired of carrying my data and software around with me.
    Besides, it could be dangerous.
    How about a SunRay phone? With consumer grid accounts?

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