Say what you will about Oracle and this year’s JavaOne conference, there’s no denying that Java developers the world over breathed a heavy sigh of relief during the show. After months of keeping mum on the topic, the company finally took time out of its busy schedule to let us all know it would not be eviscerating Java. After months of rumors and fear, it turns out that the only major Sun project Oracle plans to kill is OpenSolaris.
That may not seem like big news, but frankly, it is. When Oracle acquired Sun, it also acquired a large amount of redundant Java projects, from NetBeans to HotSpot to a large assortment of frameworks and database connectors. It was to be expected that some of these would be thrown overboard. But it would appear that Oracle is not planning on dumping any of the Java projects it acquired. The Open JDK will continue on the same path it’s been on, NetBeans will be a huge part of Oracle’s JavaFX plans, and the Java Community Process isn’t going away anytime soon. It was a comforting message to receive from a company that has, historically, not been known for its open platforms.
Make no mistake, however: There remain deep underlying problems with Oracle’s stewardship. It has been reported that, at JavaOne, the JCP board voted for Oracle to spin the JCP off as an independent overseer of Java. This was a move Oracle had called for a few years ago when Sun was in control of the evolution of Java. Also, reports show that the JCP is uncomfortable with Oracle’s lawsuit against Google over Java patents.
For now, at least, Oracle has taken a good first step by finally revealing some of its thoughts for the future of Java. While we are still a bit unclear on a few edges of the Java platform, the broader picture of what JDK 7 will be is now nice and clear for all to see. That should help to keep Java developers happy and stress-free, for at least a little while longer.
A new playbook for RIM
When RIM unveiled its new PlayBook tablet at the BlackBerry DevCon in San Francisco, many in the audience immediately saw it as a competitor to Apple’s iPad. And this is very likely the case.
But it seems somehow strange to us to think that this device is strictly for consumers. RIM has made its entire business out of catering to enterprises and “serious” users. Sure, consumers use BlackBerry devices, too, but that subsection of the population has been dwindling ever since the iPhone shipped, and as of the first of October, Android is in first place for new phone sales.
RIM isn’t about consumer devices; it’s about getting work done remotely. The company lives, eats and breathes government contracts and enterprise infrastructure. If it is now suddenly deciding to focus on the consumer market with a device that is, essentially, an expensive toy, there could be trouble.
Now we’re not saying that the iPad is a toy. What we’re saying is that no one who owns an iPad spent their grocery money on the thing: It is, essentially, a luxury item.
So, if RIM wants to play in the luxury item space, more power to it. But we feel it’d be much better off focusing on what it does best: making businesspeople unable to avoid work, no matter where they are in the world. Banking on consumers buying its tablet, when Apple already has a one-year, 50,000-app head start, is tantamount to shouting “Charge,” then rushing your troops into machine-gun fire.