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C# set to take Java's crown as Java drops 50 percent

The Java world looks to be in for a hit...and not the kind you brag about.

Using book sales as surrogate tea leaves, Mike Hendrickson of the O'Reilly Radar finds life bleak for pretty much every major programming language except C#, Javascript, and Ruby. Java? It has plunged by 50 percent since 2003.

Sun Microsystems is hedging its bets on web scripting languages, recently adding Python experts to its fold. So perhaps Sun will weather the storm. Regardless, even despite its five-year slide, Java still holds the biggest share of the book-buying market, as this chart shows:

O'Reilly Media

Are Java's days numbered? O'Reilly's data seems to suggest this:

Ruby was a small box last year and is now 8 largest language passing Perl and Python and is now knocking on the door for Visual Basic's spot. Ruby has the second largest unit growth after C# and went from 4% overall market share to 5% and is 4k units off of displacing VB for #7 overall. C# was equally impressive with a 36,811 unit growth or 18.85% growth and went from 11% market share in 2006 to 13% market share in 2007. At the rate it is going, it should surpass Java as the number one language this year as it is only (9,526) units short and is on a positive 18.85% growth rate while Java continues its slide at a (14.16%) clip.

What is the cause of Java's decline? I certainly see plenty of it within enterprises. Still, it's undeniable that the Web and its dynamic programming languages is upstaging Java. Arguably, too, Java has all the benefits and downsides to being a community product (though not enough of one for some people's tastes).

Is there a future for standalone Java applications? Of course. But is it a future that will drown in irrelevance in the wake of dynamic web languages?

What do you think?