Apr 212009

I recently came upon an FT.com article, “Java looked upon as the hottest prospect,” to which I thought, “Java? Really?” In a world of AJAX, Ruby, Perl, Python, Lua, and numerous others, Java is still a topic? I know that Java is in wide use on the server side in many places and in many embedded devices like J2ME on cell phones. To quote the article:

Part of the reason, this person says, is that Oracle believes it can make far more from Java than Sun ever did. That is because Sun decided a decade ago virtually to give the software away to make sure it was widely adopted. Many of the Java licences – including one that Sun granted to Nokia – were for 10 years and come up for renewal next year, implying that, in future, Oracle will look to extract a higher price for the technology.

But, if the price is too high, many of these companies may go the way of Apple or Netbook makers and simply begin making devices closer to real computers. Then they can run Linux variants and full blown application development environments. Java was a magic platform bullet, that failed to really arrive, and even on J2ME devices platform variations plague development. What does Java really do that cannot be accomplished with the combination of other technologies? I don’t think very much.

What really amazed me about the article was that the real punch line was left for the final paragraph of the article, a mistake that I beat out of my students early in their classes with me. Never, ever, hide the real punch line.

The final big software prize is MySQL, the open-source database program Sun bought last year for $1bn. Oracle’s databases handle more massive workloads, but MySQL has been adopted rapidly by next-generation web companies looking to save on cost. With Oracle in charge of MySQL, it could reap revenue from related services contracts while ensuring that the programme does not develop into a more serious rival product.

Yes, MySQL is a much bigger prize than Java. Duh.

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