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i-Technology Viewpoint: "Java is Back!"

Better times lie ahead for the language once known as 'Oak'

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    The best things come in threes, they say. So this month's threefold boost for Java suggests that, in a nutshell, Java is back.

    The three items involve an IT commentator, an industry executive, and a recent development within the software industry itself. After a couple of years off the radar screen of the general public, the language that began as Oak (developed as part of the so-called "Green Project" at Sun started in December 1990 by Patrick Naughton, Mike Sheridan, and James Gosling) and then, as Java, burst onto the technology world in May 1995, is suddenly back on the tip of everyone's tongue.

    Before the inevitable complaints ("But it never went anywhere!") start, let's remember that everything is relative. A "Googlefight" on, say, Java vs .NET tells us that all has not necessarily gone Java's way just recently. A "mere" 66 million "Java" hits...versus 388 million for "NET" - but that may all be about to change.

    First we have Sun's  own president and COO, Jonathan Schwartz, putting Java firmly at the center of almost everything he says, does, thinks, or writes. His now-infamous blog of last week for example, in which he managed to lambast IBM even more than he'd done the previous week, ended:

    "Were I a CIO facing these issues [the technical effort needed to port an app off one app server to another], I'd stay focused on the one thing definitively under my control - keeping the cost of substitution, of at least application portability, as close to zero as possible. How? You guessed it, I'd write to Java."

    One up for Java.

    Then came the influential columnist and IT commentator David Berlind, who wrote this week:

    "I do agree with Schwartz on his final point. Barring a need for simple scripting that could be satisfied by PHP, Perl, or Python, of the development choices that put you in control and that leave as many of your options as open as possible, Java is the way to go."

    Two up for Java.

    Most recently comes a San Jose Business Journal article saying that, after years of virtually ignoring the gaming industry, venture capitalists are finally ready to play - and attributing that readiness to, in large part, Java.

    VCs in the US made just six gaming investments totaling $50 million in all of 2003, the article reports, yet in the second quarter of 2004 alone, there were five largely mobile gaming deals totaling $86 million. While Qualcomm's BREW platform reached sales of 11.6 million units in 2003, up from 3.5 million the prior year, Java-enabled handset sales tripled in 2003 to 95.5 million units. All Java handsets are perfect for playing mobile games.

    Three up for Java.

    There will be further milestones along the way in 2004-5, and far more substantial than these three. But good things do come in threes, so make a note that you heard it here at JDJ first: Java and Linux, it seems increasingly certain, will be critical drivers of the future. Sun has a foot in both camps.

    Java, most certainly, is back. Maybe in 2005 even the Googlefight results will turn Sun's way, who knows?

    Related Links:

  • Exclusive .NETDJ Interview with Don Box - The King of COM
  • "Is Carly Toast Yet?" - Maureen O'Gara on HP's Fiorina, Three Years On

  • More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

    Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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