Netscape's Netcenter site today opened a Java Software Center as part of its Software Depot storefront. Cosponsored by Netscape, Sun Microsystems, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Novell, the center will offer ready-made pieces of Java software for purchase.
The cosponsors also are increasingly competing for sales based on Java development tools, servers, and consulting services to businesses looking to integrate Java into their corporate networks. Last week, HP said it has decided to build its own Java software for embedded processors instead of licensing the technology from Sun. The move takes licensing fees away from Sun and introduces a competing product in a market that is poised to boom in coming years as more and more appliances, phones, and other consumer devices gain digital network "smarts."
IBM, a longtime Java collaborator and Sun partner, also is making more noise about competing head to head with Sun as it tries to boost its consulting services and use Java to reinvigorate its older "big iron," large computing systems that house and handle vast amounts of networked data. IBM just announced its own one-stop information resource for Java, a Web search engine called jCentral.
Netscape recently put its client-side development on hold as it refocuses its resources on server software and the Netcenter Web site. Netcenter launched in September as Netscape redoubled its efforts to wring revenue from the heavy flow of traffic to its site, driven in part by the tens of millions of Navigator browsers that have built-in links to the site.
Since the launch, Netcenter has enlisted business partners to set up shop under the Netcenter roof. The site has a commercial "marketplace" where people can shop for books, music, flowers, and travel tickets. Other services include the Software Depot, where Software.net sells popular programs; ISP Concentric Network's "Virtual Office," a group of email, Web, and conferencing hosting services; and recently, discussion groups on topics central to the online community such as tech industry news and software troubleshooting.