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"Java Desktop System"?

Posted by johnm on December 1, 2003 at 12:20 PM PST

Well, Sun is releasing their so-called Java Desktop System this week. What, exactly, is the "Java Desktop System"? Plain and simple: it is Sun's Linux distribution focused on desktop users. Of course, Sun has too much invested in things like Solaris (which is losing market share since The Bust (and I'm not even going into the loss of mind share)) and Java for them to be clear in their marketing messages.

Okay, let's hear Sun's official story of the naming of the Java Desktop System:

Q. Why was the product name Sun Java Desktop System selected?

A. Java technology plays a very important role in the Java Desktop System - the Java Virtual Machine is integrated, the Mozilla browser is Java-aware, Java is the preferred development environment, etc. To reinforce this, we have selected the name Sun Java Desktop System.

Yeah, sure, uh-huh, whatever. Did you notice how little actual Java there is in the "Java Desktop System"? Yep, in amongst all of those applications that users are going to actually care about such as the GNOME desktop and the Star Office application suite, Sun installs the JDK and JavaWebStart.

Now, since flogging the Solaris brand against Linux is about as succesful as Hollywood's Solaris movie was at making money, Sun is betting the farm in their ability to market "Java Everywhere". So, Sun is going to flog "Java" (to death?) by slapping "Java" on more or less everything that they are trying to sell. Gee, as if the term "Java" isn't already way too overloaded (is it a language or a platform or a mindset or a community or one product or 8,000 products or...). Let's face it, Sun has pretty much always sucked at marketing and I don't see this as any sign of improvement.

Can this flogging of "Java" possibly be a good thing? Can Sun carve out a niche using a "Red Hat Enterprise Linux but we sell hardware too" approach?

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