Last gasp for Sun's quarterly NC plan?

With great fanfare in February 2003, Sun Microsystems began a new quarterly product announcement strategy called NC, short for network computing. But the most recent such event, the NC05Q2 conference held Tuesday in Washington, D.C., could be the last.

The idea behind the strategy was to get customers to admire the integration of a broad collection technology while getting Sun designers to march to the beat of the same drummer. Ever the fan of automotive industry analogies, Chief Executive Scott McNealy likened the approach to the annual rollout of new car models rather than piecemeal announcements of new piston rings, fenders and transmissions.

But Sun has gradually slipped back into its old habits of announcing products individually--everything from open-source Solaris 10 to StorEdge 6920 storage system updates. And Sun always had to reserve some news for the popular JavaOne conference.

Now it appears Tuesday's NC event could be the last. "We are reconsidering whether it makes sense to continue on a quarterly basis," said Larry Singer, the company's senior vice president of strategic insight. "After this one, we'll have a fairly significant discussion of do we want to do them quarterly anymore, and are we going to force people to hold off launching products" until the quarterly NC arrives."

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