Sun Microsystems announced yesterday that they will change their stock symbol from SUNW to JAVA. Check out the following blog post by the CEO, Jonathan Schwartz. It pretty much reminds me of the move Apple made a few months back, when Steve Jobs announced that it will change its' name form Apple Computer to Apple. It's a marketing move, no doubt. I don't see a lot of real substance behind it.
Why is it good for Sun? As their CEO points out, the Java trademark is far more ubiquitous than Suns'. Let's face it, other than us computer geeks, who knows about Sun? Do a quick poll, ask your mother, your father, your 60 years old aunt, do they know Sun? How about Java? I can guess what will be the answer.
Yet, there's a sense of betrayal. One of the best things about the Java platform is the open standards. There's no Microsoft who is the main (read: sole) vendor behind the platform. You have a choice of vendors. You know that decisions regarding the future of the platforms are being made by the community and not by one company that emphasizes its' goal to make more profit.
Java is finally gathering the momentum and it is now a very successful platform. But one of the key driver behind this success was the fact that this is an open platform. If it was just a Sun proprietary platform it would probably be as successful as Sun's NetBeans IDE (sorry for the cheap shot, I had to take it). It's true that Sun is leading Java for a long time, but it does not own Java. Java belongs to the community now and it is too late to take it back now.
But, no fear. Sun is not claiming to be Java's sole proprietor. Coming back to what I said at the beginning, this is just a marketing ploy, nothing more. Sun cannot reclaim Java even if it wanted to. But even if it could, why would it? The community is the reason for Java's success, so why cut off the branch they're sitting on?
Now, I like to see the Java platform moving forward. Sun is constantly pushing the Java platform to new levels. Hence, in general, I appreciate Sun's efforts around Java. Hence, I would like Sun to stick around and keep stirring the Java platform. Hence, I would like Sun to be a successful company: the more profit they make the more money they invest in Java. If they lose, the platform loses. If they will perish... this could be a death blow to Java. So, I'm saying that Sun should do whatever it takes to survive. We need them. And if they need the Java flag to keep their head above the water, let them use it.