Internet Week: Sun’s McNealy should ‘buy a Mac or better yet, buy Apple’

“Sun once again is trying to convince us that Java belongs on the desktop. At this week’s SunNetwork conference, we are treated to the delightful wit and wisdom of Scott McNealy poking fun at our industry and making a case for getting rid of the rat’s nest of code called Windows that most of us continue to use,” David Strom writes for Internet Week in his article, “Java On The Desktop: An Idea Whose Time Has Come … And Gone.”

“I have only one piece of advice for Scott: If you really want an alternative to Windows, buy a Mac. It runs Unix just fine, has a great and stable graphical desktop environment that for the most part is Redmond-free, and isn’t infected every 10 minutes when some kid in eastern Europe figures out the latest vulnerability in RPC,” Strom writes.

Strom then goes on to explain why Java on the desktop is a bad idea and peppers his article with sentences such as, “Buy a Mac, Scott. It is affordable, secure and easy to use” and “Just buy a Mac, Scott.”

Strom concludes, “That isn’t to say the Mac is perfect, either. Many times, my Web-based apps just don’t run on my Mac browsers, and typically it is because someone has decided to pick the Windows-only version of Java or Active X that precludes any Mac users. Too bad. Maybe if Scott and Bill could kiss and make up over desktop Java we would have better Mac-based apps. Maybe the two companies can collaborate on a lot more things: after all, with Sun servers and Mac clients, we could get a pretty good thing going here. But that is for another column. No, we are stuck with Windows for the time being, and Microsoft knows it. Java on the desktop is an idea that has come and gone. Stick to servers, Scott, and move front and center to fight that battle. Better yet, buy Apple.”

Full article here.


  1. I can see Jobs’ reaction when he is told that Scott McNealy or anyone else is in charge…


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    I seriously doubt Jobs would let anyone buy Apple. It is his playpen where he has absolute rule.

    But, he would sell Scott McNealy a Mac. Better yet, give one to Gates for Christmas… with a label, “Worm free”

  2. NO WAY! If you want to see what can happen when 2 different computer companies are merged ask the people at Cray. Apple has a very different corporate culture than Sun. Instead of advancing the Mac OS and the PPC hardware, tons of time and money would be taken up with internal (non-productive) activities merging the two operations. The desktop and low-end server markets, where Apple lives, is at a critical juncture. Apple cannot afford to lose time or resources as the 64-bit era of desktop computing develops. Mistakes by Apple in the 1994-1998 period have as much to do with Microsoft’s market dominance as anything else. Just slapping 2 companies together doesn’t always work, and this one is ill advised.

  3. Definitely not an answer.

    Sun Microsystems needs to stick with its new strategy and bring the ‘Java Desktop System’ (or Mad Hatter) to the masses to help kill Microsoft’s dominance on the desktop market.

    Also AOL needs to let go of Netscape and sell (maybe even give away) to Sun so that Netscape can be a worthy component in the webspace. Netscape is the usual browser of choice in the Unix community. Sun could take advantage of Netscape’s market on web content and other web-based services to help gain a marketplace within the internet that goes beyond just selling servers.

    I would love to see Sun (and Java Desktop) unseat Microsoft (and Windows) on the desktop in the near future.

  4. The match would be a far better fit than people realize. Both are UNIX companies but Sun is almost entirely the high end and Apple is almost entirely desktop.

    There is no real need for purchase, the two companies should ally with each other and share technology. A partnership. Sun servers running OSX running Quicktime would have some fairly large advantages over the wintel chips. Bundling SUN servers with iMacs and other units helps sell Apple products to the Enterprise, where Apple is currently underrepresented. Win-win.

  5. Ruprecht,

    I understand what you are saying, HOWEVER, Apple already has the Xserve product line. They need to beef it up with G5’s and Apple (or other software makers) need to focus more on enterprise software.

    Sun servers used to be great, but now there are competing products. The Xserve is better designed than the “blade” servers. Jobs had that design with the old NeXT Cube years ago. The Xserve can network via firewire, gigabit ethernet, etc. The main drawback (look at Steve Jobs’ choice for Pixar) was processing power. Now with the G5 and IBM ahead of schedule, watch Apple more ahead with more robust Servers.

    Sun needs Apple more than Apple needs Sun.

  6. Under no circumstances let anyone buy Apple or do anything that will jeapordise SJ’s running of the company. Look what happened last time. A disaster. He has brought it back from the death and worked miracles. Just imagine where it will be in 10 years if he is still around!

  7. David Strom clearly doesn’t understand the whole concept behind Java. The idea behind Java is not to encourage purchases of Sun workstations and servers — nor ANY particular computer platform; rather the whole idea behind Java is platform independence. In an age of rising development costs and of increased outsourcing of good development jobs outside of ths USA, this is something which is more timely than ever. No language promotes modularity and resusability more than Java. Clearly Microsoft thinks Java is a significant threat; that’s why it appropriated it and called it C# and .Net (with C and C++ adulterations thrown in).

    Steve Jobs himself has embraced Java (and Cocoa) as the chief development platforms for the Mac and OS X. Thus the idea that Java is an _alternative_ to OS X is erroneous. This is not an either-or question. Java and OS X can coexist happily.

    Finally, it would be the death of Apple if McNealty bought it. Clearly he does not understand the consumer market nor retail distribution channels. He has no experience in the niches which Apple excels in and he is a control-freak who is unlikely to let Apple do its own thing (as a wholly owned subsidiary). Also, Jobs and McNealy would not be able to work together or to share power. Jobs would then flee. Not to mention that it’s Apple — not Sun — which is profitable right now. Sun is actually a financially troubled company which is struggling to redefine itself as Dell, HP, and IBM encroach on its server and enterprise business.

    So I don’t know what this guy is thinking, but he is indeed a poor confused soul.

  8. Ignoring the whole Sun buys Apple rubbish, Sun’s vision is a giant step backwards.

    The argument goes thusly: Computers need to be “administered.” People need to get virus definitions, system updates, application updates, backups, clean-ups, etc. However, nobody wants to administer their computers–they just want them to work.

    The solution? Pay someone to do it. Centralize everything and pay a monthly fee. All of the software is installed at a central location. All of your storage is also at the central location. Nice people at the central location do all the administrative work for you; you always have the latest version of Photoshop and if you accidentally erase something, just call someone and they’ll put it back. No muss, no fuss, no worries.

    Frankly, there are a lot of people who would benefit from this kind of service. Let’s be honest–we all know lots of people who went out and bought computers so they could view things on the Internet and read mail. They view the computer as a telephone–a dumb device.

    That said, Apple is going in a different direction. Rather than accept the fact that computers must be “administered”, Apple has made their machines require less administration and has made that administration much easier as well as being more automated.

    This is a benefit to computer owners and to the software industry. Mac owners are more likely to buy software because there’s less administration tasks. I know people who bought Windows software, installed it, and their computer never worked the same again. That person will never buy another program as long as they live.

    Sun’s strategy removes the power from the individual owner with disastrous results for technology companies because the individual no longer has control–their ISP does.

    Here’s a bad example: Worried about peer-to-peer file-sharing? Don’t put the software on your servers. Presto! Problem solved!

    Will we see “edited” games–so that parents don’t get offended–on these servers? Who decides what software is allowed? (Think cable; basic web surfing is $19.99/month. Want the latest games? That’s an extra $4.99. Want music? That’s an extra $9.99. And so on and so on…)

    What about hardware drivers? Will I have I way to plug in my digital camera? What about next years technology? Suddenly, all this is centralized and a committee someplace else decides what is allowed and isn’t.

  9. To Peter: I think you place too much emphasis on the IT/sys-admin aspects and that you don’t give enough consideration to the fact that Sun WAS and IS right that the network is the computer. Sure, this doesn’t argue against the idea that computers should be increasingly easy to use, maintain, and fix — and that indeed they should be self-diagnosing, repairing, and maintaining — of course not. However, the idea of “place” or “location” is less an issue today and more and more people are making use of remote storage and e-mail services and servers than ever before. Especially as bandwidth increases and people leave dial-up connections in favor of DSL and cable, the concept of the “Network is the computer” is realised more each passing day.

    This isn’t to say there will be no need for storage on local hard drives and I will agree that the “Network Computer” concept itself was a bit too far-fetched. But on the major issue about the role of networks and its impact, Sun WAS right.

  10. “Network is the computer” is stilla goal at this stage. Like any utopia it will fail. I imagine a more complex, and hence more realistic scenario will develop whereby some aspects are centralised whilst others are local.

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