IBMs vice president of emerging Internet technologies, Rod Smith, sent the letter Wednesday night to Rob Gingell, Suns chief engineer, vice president and fellow. Citing an eWEEK article as inspiration (see "Sun: Secret Negotiations on Eclipse Continue"), Smith said IBM is ready to work together with Sun on an open-source Java.In the article Smith cited, Simon Phipps, Suns chief technology evangelist, asked: "Why hasnt IBM given its implementation of Java to the open-source community?"Wrote Smith in his letter: "Simons comment appears to be an offer to jointly work toward this common goal. IBM is a strong supporter of the open source community, and we believe that a first class open source Java implementation would further enhance Javas position in the industry by spurring growth of new applications and encouraging new innovation in the Java platform." Moreover, "IBM has been calling on Sun for years to open up Java because it will spur innovation," said an IBM spokesperson. "Now IBM is throwing down the gauntlet." Rick Ross, president of Javalobby Inc., of Cary, N.C., an association of Java developers with more than 100,000 members, said, "On the surface, Rods reply indicates a clear willingness on IBMs behalf to invest in an independent, open-source Java implementation that would benefit everyone" Ross said the move could have benefits for Java developers. "One, if an independent, certifiably compatible implementation of the Java core libraries is available, then third parties can focus on competitive performance enhancements in the VM [virtual machine]," Ross said. "Two, the barriers to Java being distributed as part of standard Linux distributions would be lowered. And three, Sun competitors who are presently unwilling to invest in the Java platform would finally be able to view Java as a platform that is independent of Sun, rather than as Suns tool."