Sun President Jonathan Schwartz added fuel to the hype fire with a blog entry published Saturday, hinting that the world--and primarily the way we buy and use software--was about to change.
Speculation that Google plans to square off with Microsoft in the software sector has been bouncing around. When plans of a joint announcement from Sun and Google surfaced, those rumors began to focus on what the two companies had to offer each other, and what sort of unified product they might release.
But far from what many had hoped for--an online application meant to--the two companies announced simply that they would collaborate on work on Sun's OpenOffice.org, Java and OpenSolaris, and Google's Toolbar. Details about what exactly that will entail were vague at best, with the only nugget offered being that Sun, in the immediate future, will make Google's toolbar a standard part of the package when users download Sun's Java Runtime Environment from the server seller's Web site.
The announcement left many bloggers less than thrilled, and blog entries with titles such as "Big whoop," "That's it?" and "Google and Sun announce yawn" abound on blog search site Technorati. It's clear that many in the blogosphere were looking for a more groundbreaking project to come from the companies. But several bloggers say that view is shortsighted, that the potential for major change coming from this partnership is still strong and that Tuesday's announcement is the first step on a long journey.
The word from the Web...
I'm at this very moment looking at two headlines in an AP news feed and trying to figure out which one is more banal: "Sun, Google in Software Distribution Pact" or "Pamela Anderson Gets Restraining Order".
Nicholas Carr's Rough Type
Some people are scrambling to find the meat of the deal, but there really isn't any there--Google doesn't even think it's big enough to warrant putting out their own press release. This seems like a ploy by Sun to try and gain some attention and good press by latching on to Google, when there's not a lot of underlying substance--much like the recent Apple-Motorola collaboration. Like Apple, Google seems content to let Sun make a little noise for the time being, until it unleashes its Nano to steal all the thunder. Like Steve Jobs saying Apple worked with Motorola as a "learning experience," Google's got something up its sleeve. But when that announcement comes, don't expect Sun to get much mention.
I've gotten comments ranging from "lame" to "underwhelmed," describing today's Sun-Google announcement. I wouldn't underestimate the significance here. OK, so Google is going to ask people to download a huge chunk of Java software--well, huge compared to the toolbar. What's the big deal? Google just shot a huge cannon across Microsoft's bow. A Google alliance with any competitor is probably going to cause ulcers over at Microsoft. Google could distribute millions of copies of Java, and that's not .Net Framework. Google just breathed new life into Java, essentially endorsed it.
Microsoft Monitor Weblog
In my view, this is where Google really has the opportunity to disrupt the market. If one of the hardest parts of software as a service...is the coherent management of organizations' information across these services, are there many--if any--companies that have a stronger platform and brand from which to build or support such a next-generation SaaS environment? The center of Google's competency is certainly in aggregating and indexing information from a wide variety of sources, and simplifying the act of accessing relevant information.
So what do the vague announcements today about the Google-Sun deal-in-motion mean? Sun gets to showcase its present and future data center and services delivery platform grid efficiencies at the premier ISV: Google. Java Runtime Environment on the desktop gets a life-sustaining shot of vitamin B-12, while OpenOffice-StarOffice might well become the R&D replacement and speed-to-market turbocharge that Google needs to leap out front in the race to redefine the client computing-as-service experience. Make that mission-critical experience. Now, who needs to worry most about Sun and Google making happy-face? I say it's the voice and data network providers, the Verizons, Sprints, SBCs, BTs, MCIs, BellSouths, and France Telecoms. Because if Sun+Google=Voice and Data Efficiencies as a service stream, aka Webtone par excellence, on a global scale, then who are you gonna call when you need business services?
ZDNet's Between the Lines
That's it?! You held a press conference and generated all that hype to announce that at some unnamed point in the future, the Google Toolbar (which is already on practically every computer out there) will be optionally available when people download the Java Runtime Environment?! What a letdown! To say nothing of the fact that bundling is bad. Can you think of an instance where products are bundled together like this that doesn't annoy the heck out of you?