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Sun to change stock ticker to JAVA

Looking to cash in on Java brand, Sun will lose SUNW in favor of JAVA to reflect company's present, rather than its past, says CEO.

In an effort to capitalize on the Java brand, server and software company Sun Microsystems will change its stock ticker from SUNW to JAVA next week.

Sun is making the shift because Java has far greater brand awareness than the company's name, said CEO Jonathan Schwartz in his blog on Thursday. The current symbol, which stands for Stanford University Network Workstation, reflects the company's origins but not its present, he said.

"The number of people who know Java swamps the number of people who know Sun," Schwartz wrote. "JAVA is a technology whose value is near infinite to the Internet, and a brand that's inseparably a part of Sun (and our profitability)."

Sun estimates that 1 billion consumers recognize the steaming coffee cup symbol of Java, it said in a press release.

Java is a programming language and platform for running applications written in Java and some other languages. The software is installed on over 2 billion mobile phones as well as desktop PCs and servers.

In addition to having a better recognized brand, Java spans Sun's multiple businesses. The company is often referred to as a "server vendor," but Schwartz, who used to head up Sun's software business, argued that Java touches all of what Sun does.

"Java means limitless opportunity--for our software, systems, storage, service and microelectronics businesses. And for the open-source communities we shepherd," he wrote.

Sun has sought to capitalize on the Java brand for many years through consumer-oriented marketing efforts. But despite inventing Java in 1995, financial analysts have often criticized the company in the past few years because other companies have commercialized Java technology more successfully.

In an effort to monetize Java better, Sun has sought to reach out to software developers in corporations and start-ups. It has open-sourced Java under the General Public License and said that it will open-source its entire software product line. It has already open-sourced its Solaris operating system, which IBM said it will begin to support on its server hardware.

One Sun partner from Germany left an unhappy comment on Schwartz's blog, saying that many people don't have a good association with Java. "In the minds of many people, Java == slow," he wrote.

The shift may not go down well with Java licensees either.

The platform and language are widely used, incorporated into products from hundreds of vendors. But Sun controls the branding of Java and restricts licensees from using the Java name in their products.

Partners, including rival IBM, have complained that that Java Community Process and events like JavaOne revolve around Sun rather than the Java "community" as a whole.