To say the past few months have been a whirlwind is an understatement.
And thanks for the reminders, I recognize it’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog. For reasons why, just click here to read the background. And before you ask, SEC regulations and securities laws limit what I can discuss about the Oracle transaction, so don’t expect any insights on the topic.
But there’s still a ton going on at Sun – with JavaOne (June 2nd, in San Francisco) coming up fastest on the horizon. We’re preparing to reveal what I believe is one of the most important advancements ever for the Java community – and this time, it’s all about revenue and business opportunity.
As you know, we’re fond of throwing great big numbers around when talking about Java’s distribution: billions of PCs’, mobile devices, and smartcards, millions of enterprise servers, set top boxes, Blu-Ray DVD players and a growing number of very cool Kindles (buy one here). Very few technologies on the internet have anywhere near that kind of distribution muscle. Adobe’s Flash, and Microsoft’s Windows are just about its only peers when measured by runtime volume.
But not all Java runtimes are the same. For most devices, from RIM’s Blackberry to Sony’s Blu-Ray DVD players, original equipment manufacturers (known as “OEM’s”) license core Java technology and brand from Sun, and build their own Java runtime. Although we’re moving to help OEM’s with more pre-built technology, the only runtimes currently that come direct from Sun are those running on Windows PC’s.
And oddly enough, that’s made the Windows Java runtime our most profitable Java platform. I thought I’d provide some insight into that business here, and then introduce a project we’re planning to unveil at this year’s JavaOne, known internally as Project Vector.
As a business model, traffic for traffic’s sake isn’t that interesting (but never confuse traffic with adoption). Free internet traffic is only interesting if a third party is willing to pay to drive distribution of their content to your audience – from highway billboards to internet runtimes, businesses will pay for exposure and distribution to drive their business, whether through branding/advertising, delivering news, or selling movies or retail products. “Getting distribution” used to mean getting access to bricks and mortar distributors in shopping malls – nowadays, it means having another company propel your content into the market via the internet.
Now to that point, a few years ago, we called our friends at one of the world’s largest search companies (you can guess who), to talk about helping them with software distribution – because of Java’s ubiquity, we had a greater capacity than almost anyone to distribute software to the Windows installed base. We signed a contract through which we’d make their toolbar optionally available to our audience via the Java update mechanism. They paid us a much appreciated fee, which increased dramatically when we renegotiated the contract a year later. Distribution was becoming quite valuable to us and to them – and given the “take” rates, or the rates at which consumers were choosing to install new content, the Java audience saw value in the new application.
The year following, the revenue increased dramatically again – when an aspiring search company (again, you can figure out who) outbid our first partner to place their toolbar in front of Java users (this time, limited to the US only). Toolbars, it turns out, are a significant driver of search traffic – and the billions of Java runtimes in the market were a clear means of driving value and opportunity.
The revenues to Sun were also getting big enough for us to think about building a more formal business around Java’s distribution power – to make it available to the entire Java community, not simply one or two search companies on yearly contracts.
And that’s what Project Vector is designed to deliver – Vector is a network service to connect companies of all sizes and types to the roughly one billion Java users all over the world. Vector (which we’ll likely rename the Java Store), has the potential to deliver the world’s largest audience to developers and businesses leveraging Java and JavaFX. What kinds of companies might be interested?
If you talk to a Fortune 500 company or a startup, pretty much everyone craves access to consumers – which is the one problem we’ve solved with the Java platform. Most folks don’t think of Sun as a consumer company, and largely we’re not, but our runtimes reach more consumers than just about any other company on earth. That ubiquity has obvious value to search companies, but it’s also quite valuable to banks looking to sign up new accounts, sports franchises looking for new viewers, media companies and news organizations looking for new subscribers – basically, any Java developer looking to escape the browser to reach a billion or so consumers.
How will it work? Candidate applications will be submitted via a simple web site, evaluated by Sun for safety and content, then presented under free or fee terms to the broad Java audience via our update mechanism. Over time, developers will bid for position on our storefront, and the relationships won’t be exclusive (as they have been for search). As with other app stores, Sun will charge for distribution – but unlike other app stores, whose audiences are tiny, measured in the millions or tens of millions, ours will have what we estimate to be approximately a billion users. That’s clearly a lot of traffic, and will position the Java App Store as having just about the world’s largest audience.
This creates opportunity for everyone in the developer community – and specifically, for any developer (even those not using Java/JavaFX) seeking to reach beyond the browser to create a durable relationship with their customers (and btw, don’t forget to join us for CommunityOne – the day before JavaOne, June 1st, same location – click the graphic to learn more). Remember, when apps are distributed through the Java Store, they’re distributed directly to the desktop – JavaFX enables developers, businesses and content owners to bypass potentially hostile browsers.
For details on how Vector will work, when it’ll be available, how to submit your content or application – alongside insights into Project Vector’s technology, roadmap, features and business model, come see us at JavaOne… In the interim, you can learn more about the latest JavaFX news at sun.com/javafx, and download the latest JavaFX design tools at netbeans.org.
And although we obviously don’t comment on rumors, we might even have a special guest or two at JavaOne.
See you in San Francsico (or on the webcast…)!