Java News from Monday, April 6, 2009

I suspect the failure of the IBM-Sun merger is a good thing. More competition in the marketplace is usually a good thing. I understand that the acquiring company is often looking for an exit strategy, but I've never quite understood what most acquirers think they're getting. Was there really anything Sun had that IBM couldn't build itself? What exactly did Sun bring to the table?

Especially in large mergers, only rarely does the acquired company become worth what was invested in it. In the worst case scenario, it ends up killing the company that acquired it. Sun's been poisoned by too many acquisitions over the years from Cobalt to MySQL. Only a few would I call successes--StarOffice and NetBeans--and then only by product standards. None of them seem to have generated any real revenue for Sun.

Imagine, for example, what would happen if the Apple-Sun deal had gone through in the late 90s. Both companies would be dead now. Sun could never have pulled off what Apple did on its own. We can hope this is Sun's reverse-Apple moment, and that they too will climb out of the depths of despair to a market leading position over the next ten years. Rumors are that McNealy scuttled this deal, and may now take control of Sun. Can McNealy do for Sun what Jobs did for Apple? I doubt it, but I doubted Jobs too. Maybe I'm wrong again. I hope so, but I'm still not buying any JAVA stock.