Sun Microsystems will base its future on software and reliable, available Web access, as chief executive Scott McNealy claims Microsoft chief Bill Gates? PC/TV strategy is flawed.
Sun also proved its present is healthy and it is still growing. Analysts expected Sun to report flat results in its third quarter but in fact it made $223.5 million profit on turnover of $2.1 billion, thanks to strong sales of new products.
At an event hosted at Sun?s Menlo Park headquarters, McNealy claimed Microsoft?s $425 million acquisition of WebTV was "the best thing that could happen" to Sun. "We?ll develop component technology - in TVs, set-top boxes, NCs - and we won?t compete in that hardware business," he told VNU Newswire. "Every consumer hardware company will come to Sun, now Microsoft has bought WebTV, as we won?t compete with consumer companies."
Sun will chase OEM deals with electronics companies for devices. "Then our boxes will have Sony or Samsung?s name on them, not Sun?s, to compete with Microsoft. We?ll see who wins then."
Software arm Sunsoft revealed its strategy for the next two years will be based on ?Web tone?, a concept similar to the telephone network?s 'dial tone'. Sunsoft president Janpieter Scheerder sees an ideal world where Internet access is as reliable and seamless as telephone access.
Sun hopes to provide consistent Web tone to anyone, anywhere, any time, using Java to evolve from traditional Lans and Wans. "It?s a connection, using smartcards to supercomputers, serving individuals, groups and countries for business between partners, suppliers and customers," Scheerder said.
McNealy said people take available technology for granted. "When you pick up the phone, you are not happy if there?s no dial tone. Look at what happened when AOL?s [Web access service] didn?t work. Dial tone just works - you don?t know why and you don?t care."
Sun?s strategy is based on software - Solaris and Java - and it has gradually become less reliant on its workstation business for sales volume. Analysts claimed Sun?s growth is not sustainable because hardware margins are falling but McNealy was clear that software is Sun?s heritage and its future: "We are a software company that also ships Dram and drives to store it," he said. "We resell other company?s power suppliers and other hardware, with some of our bits inside."
McNealy claimed the developer market has consolidated to three platforms: Wintel, Sparc/Solaris and HTML/Java. But the company admitted it will take two to three years to address customer demands to speed up Java and develop it sufficiently to compete with C++ on an even footing in the market.
Sun also provided roadmaps for its products. Sun said in the fourth quarter of 1997 Solaris will support 64-bit applications, which will be simpler to install and will be complemented by Webserver, a Solaris-based Internet server that will be available to download free in June. Sun will protect customers? investments by launching bridging software between C++-based servers and Java-based clients, develop multi-platform Java compilers and update its Java Virtual Machines. Sun?s access control software, Security Manager, and Sunscreen EFS and SPF-200, the firewall products, will ship in July.
McNealy said the company is interviewing internally and externally to replace chief technology officer Eric Schmidt, who joined Novell on 7 April.
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