Consumers will use Sun?s Java technology embedded in electronics products and cars long before they see it deployed in network computers (NCs), according to Scott McNeally, Sun?s chairman, in a dramatic U-turn on his previous statements of imminent world domination.
But, even if people have been jumping the gun if they expected Java and NCs to be ubiquitous already, he warned attendees yesterday at Harvard University?s conference on the Internet and Society not to rule out NCs just yet because the best days for the PC alternative are still to come.
The challenge to the industry was to make computing as simple as flipping a lightswitch or turning a car on. ?When you turn on an automobile today, you have 150 microprocessors going into gear. The only computer you use in the course of a day that you don?t intuitively know how to use is our Microsoft computer,? he attested.
A key plank of this future simplicity was the Internet, he said, which needed standards to continue to grow and would remain the main means of developing and disseminating such standards. ?With the Web taking over and taking charge, standards are getting set on the Web,? he explained.
But Lou Gerstner, IBM?s chief executive, in a keynote speech at the same conference, adopted a more humanitarian theme.
While technology was causing a revolution in the workplace that was shifting from workers? desks to the CEO?s office, people needed to be involved to obtain the best results, he argued.
?Technology is not the hard part. The hard part is what has to be done to take advantage of technology. A network is an important tool, but it won?t replace brilliant teachers who can motivate a classroom of kids, parents who support their kids, and administrators with high standards. Technology is not a silver bullet,? he explained.
But an Internet based world was bringing in competition from ?places you never knew. This is about CEOs thinking of business in very different ways. It?s not enough to put up a Web site. If four million people arrive at once, you have to be prepared.?
He added that company identities could well be the most important asset in the Internet world of the future. ?There is real pressure on brands. Some say there will only be 100 or 200 brands that matter in 10 years.?
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