Sun gathered the faithful last week in San Francisco and Apple is doing so this week.
I attended and participated in both conferences many times but am not at either this year for the first time in many years. “Withdrawal symptoms?”, a friend asked. No, surprisingly not. I didn’t miss the internal mayhem that is Sun’s preparation leading up to JavaOne. But now that WWDC is underway I do have the temptation to reflect a bit and share with you.
I attended WWDC the first time in 1989. I worked for KPMG Peat Marwick and so put on the business suit that Monday morning to register for the conference. I looked about the long line snaking to San Jose’s Convention Center seeing only jeans, shorts and t-shirts. I turned around, walked back to the hotel and changed. My ego has the fondest memories of the 1996 conference when the OpenDoc team included an OpenDoc component that I had written in their on-stage demo.
My first JavaOne conference was in 1997, just before joining Sun, watching Graham and Larry present JavaBeans. The next year I was on stage together with Graham doing JavaBeans demos. That was pretty cool too.
But I want to talk about this year’s conferences rather that those close to ancient past.
When you’re part of something it seems that the world at large evolves around it, pays rapt attention. Only when you’re on the outside do you see that the larger world may not be paying so much attention. Last week I did not see any mention of the JavaOne conference on news.com. On my Yahoo page where I track JAVA stock news a few Sun announcements came by but nothing that seemed very major. Larry Ellison was on stage but Yahoo only appeared to report that Oracle is (still) interested in netbooks. From arguably the industry’s most important software developer conference only a few years back JavaOne seems to have descended to the common ranks of all the many conferences that take place during the year.
Such a pity. As my neighbor Cort who works for IBM and I were chatting last week: such a missed opportunity. Such a shame that at Sun we never really figured out how to capitalize on having invented the most significant software technology of the last decade. We Javasofters should have Ferrari’s on our drive ways. I’ll take mine yellow, thank you. We were probably a little too nice to the industry and Sun competitors rather than focus on our own commercial success. From that perspective JavaFX is interesting but is there enough time left? It will be intriguing to watch what Oracle can do.
Leading up to WWDC’s opening keynote yesterday, news.com had various articles speculating about the conference and possible Apple announcements. News.com blogged live during the keynote as did several other news outlets. CNN HeadLineNews made brief mention of the conference. And Apple had a fair amount of news: updated laptops, Mac OS X news, new iPhone apps, new iPhone OS, new iPhone. Oh and the conference was sold out. It sold out in late April already. Looking at the breadth of the news, the size of the conference, this appears to be a company that’s ticking very well. And so it appears WWDC is inheriting JavaOne’s crown as the significant yearly developer conference.
The saying goes “execution is everything.” I do think that’s one of things that plagued Sun since 1995: picking and choosing from all the opportunities before it and sticking with any one of them long enough.
Which leads me back to JavaFX and Android for just a moment. The iPhone adoption numbers (eg its share of mobile web usage) that Phil Schiller released during the keynote were just very impressive. In contrast Sun announced its JavaFX app store last week but without the financial component, JavaFX is not pre-installed on phones by any carrier as far as I know. On the Android side, there still seems to be only the one T-Mobile G1 phone. Certainly I had expected Google with its market muscle to have had a much great impact on the market by now.