The World Wants a Challenging Google-Sun Alliance

Opinion: To seriously push Microsoft, Google and Sun need to really team up-not just put out weak news releases.

The world was ready for Google and Sun to actually do something. Tuesday morning, reporters and editors around the world were ready for a big announcement. Alas, we were let down.

With all the speculation that StarOffice was becoming GoogleOffice and that Google and Sun were jointly challenging Microsoft, I was ready to write a column about the great battles that lay ahead. Microsoft likewise seems ready to do battle with a challenging Google-Sun alliance.

Sadly, all that Google and Sun announced was the bundling of the Google Toolbar with Java Runtime downloads. Also, "the companies have agreed to explore opportunities to promote and enhance Sun technologies, like the Java Runtime Environment and the productivity suite," the news release said.

Lets see: We have a marketing deal—the sort that companies do all the time and dont announce—and PR-speak for "Were going to be holding some more meetings."

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more details from the Sun-Google announcement.

This looks like Google CEO Eric Schmidt is trying to be nice to his former boss, Sun CEO Scott McNealy, by giving the setting Sun access to the Google marketing channel, rather than doing anything that might actually change Suns gloomy outlook.

In the news release sent out after the announcement, Schmidts endorsement of Sun was tepid, at best.

"Google and Java are two of the most widely recognized technology brands because they provide users with online tools that enhance their lives on a day-to-day basis. The Google Toolbar offers useful Internet search services while Java enables richer interactive content. We look forward to exploring other related areas of collaboration," the release quoted Schmidt as saying.

By comparison, McNealys quote caries the enthusiasm youd expect from a man whod just been tossed a lifeline by an old friend.

"As a leader in free and open-source software, Sun has long recognized that network innovation is vital to the evolution of the global economy," McNealy said. "Working with Google will make our technologies available more broadly, increase options for users, lower barriers and expand participation worldwide. Free and open-source technologies, such as, OpenSolaris and Java, have never been safer or offered more choices."

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more analysis of the Google-Sun partnership announcement.

Reporters who attended the announcement, including my colleague Peter Galli, wrote somewhat more upbeat accounts, though the enthusiasm at the scene was hardly supported by the meat of the announcement.

If Google and Sun want to work closely together it would probably be a good thing. However, Google should be careful to not allow Suns problems to weigh it down. Or maybe Google should just buy Sun and see if it can turn the company around.

Now that would be an exciting announcement. And its probably not as absurd or as unlikely as it sounds. Maybe todays non-announcement is really just the beginning.

Contributing editor David Coursey has spent two decades writing about hardware, software and communications for business customers. He can be reached at

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