Who holds Sun Micro accountable?

Anil turned me on to Dan Wood, the programmer behind Watson utility and Karelia Software. Apparently, Sun which has bought his company for an undisclosed amount of money is mothballing the product. I feel for Wood, who worked really hard on the software, which was mercilessly stabbed in the back by Apple which mimicked it in Sherlock. When Sun bought the company in June, I saw there was going to be a redemption. It was going to be called Project Alameda.

I am sad to say that it looks like Sun doesn’t seem to be focussing on getting the port of Watson released any time soon. Of course, this wasn’t the plan. The intention when Sun acquired the Watson technology was to have a port released by this time. But as all of us are familiar with how public companies behave when pressure is put upon them by Wall Street for profitability; it seems that the release of the Watson port is not on Sun’s critical path right now.

I read that comment, and I think that is just absolute and utter crap. Wall Street has nothing to do with it. Wood is being too polite to not lash out against the Sun management, which ranks second only to New York Mets in terms of skills. If Sun is letting Wall Street do back street driving then what the hell are McNealy & Company getting paid for? Sun has made a bad habit of blowing shareholder’s equity as if it was pocket change in Scott McNealy’s front pocket. How can you basically go from buying a company on June 29, and mothballing the main product less than three months later. Incompetence? Funny how their stupidity does not get any headlines in the mainstream media.

Some folks recently mentioned that Sun has made a comeback – its server share in second quarter 2004 is up 38.4 percent from the second quarter 2003. That is such utter crap. I found a Gartner press release which says that the company’s share of world wide server sales in revenues is up 2.9% for the quarter to $1.51 billion from $1.464 billion. Which means, either someone overstated or that the company sold more servers but made less money per server, which is not really a good thing. Comeback?

Sun wore sackcloth on Tuesday, as it begged an auditorium full of Wall Street data processors to try Solaris on the computers that Sun now sells with processors from Intel or Advanced Micro Devices. Customers can even get 50% off the price of Solaris, if they swap out of Linux. Sun says that its Unix is now cheaper than the freely downloadable Linux, after counting the customer support fees charged by such Linux distributors as Red Hat. That’s like selling the loss-leader phone without nabbing a subscriber, says Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi. Even if Sun succeeds in gobbling up Red Hat’s entire share of the software market, Sacconaghi figures that it wouldn’t provide much of a meal. Red Hat’s revenues amount to about 3% of Sun’s $11.5 billion in annual sales. [Barron’s Online]

Sun’s has a habit of blowing acquisitions: at the height of the dot-com bubble, they bought a company called Cobalt Networks, which almost single handedly invented the appliance server business. It also gave them a visa to Planet Linux. They blew it: they could not capitalize on the most powerful hardware trend of the late 1990s, and missed a chance to ride the Penguin. It might amaze you but apparently Cobalt Linux is still among the top three Linux distributions on the planet, and there are some folks in Japan who have built a great business out of building guess what: appliances based on Cobalt Linux. This was a $2 billion buyout: why wasn’t anyone fired for this balls-up? I could go on. I recently read that they are now planning to acquire Montevista Software, a microlinux company that is profitable. I fear for the chances of this little company. It is almost guaranteed that they are going to find a way to muck it up. Jonathan Schwartz mocks IBM on his blog, takes a dig at Nick Carr. Dude, those who live in glass houses don’t walk around in birthday suits.

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