The latest tidbits on Sun deals and product news

January  1998
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Sun and Motorola form a Java-based partnership

San Francisco (January 27, 1998) -- Sun and Motorola joined forces yesterday and announced a licensing agreement which allows Motorola to put Java technology into its products.

The agreement, which chairman president and CEO, Scott McNealy, defines in a company statement as "the largest techology license agreement in the history of the Java platform," has only been loosely defined by Sun and no dollar amounts were disclosed.

Motorola's products are wide ranging. They include advanced electronics systems, automotive components, computers, silicon systems and solutions, smart cards and wireless devices. Motorola's sales for 1997 were approximately $30 billion.

--Stephanie Steenbergen, Sunworld


Sun strikes a deal with RealNetworks

San Francisco (January 26, 1998) -- Sun Microsystems today announced an agreement with Seattle-based RealNetworks to make RealNetworks' RealSystem 5.0 streaming media products available on Sun's Ultra desktops and Sun Enterprise server computers.

News of this bundling agreement cannot come as pleasing information to RealNetworks' shareholder, Microsoft, which recently paid approximately $30 million for a 10 percent nonvoting stake in RealNetorks.

RealNetworks' RealSystem 5.0 is a client/server streaming media system that includes publishing tools called RealPlayers and Realservers. RealSystem 5.0 provides users the ability to send and view real-time video, audio, and animation over the Internet and corporate intranets.

RealNetworks also plans to develop Java-based versions of its RealVideo and RealAudio products.

--Stephanie Steenbergen, SunWorld


Sun forms executive management team

San Francisco (January 21, 1998) -- Sun Microsystems Inc. announced today the promotion of three top executives and the establishment of an executive management committee.

In addition to CEO Scott McNealy, the other committee members appointed are Edward Zander, Michael Lehman, and William Raduchel. The committee will be responsible for day to day company operations and long range planning.

The announcement is not at all an indication that Sun may be spreading itself too thin with its involvement in various new marketing opportunities, according to Susanne Vagadori, a company spokesperson.

"With Sun approaching a US$10 billion company this is absolutely a natural thing to do," Vagadori said. With the enormous opportunities presenting themselves to the company, it is the right time to do it, she added.

McNealy will focus most of his attention on longer term strategies and forming business alliances, and hand over the day to day operations to the committee, according to Vagadori.

The announcement does not mean that McNealy was having difficulties managing the company's expanding operations and is not meant to reflect any doubt of his abilities, according to Vagadori.

"With the company moving forward, this was an appropriate and logical next step in management structure," she added.

Promoted to chief operating officer, Zander, formerly president of Sun Microsystems Computer Co., will manage Sun's operating companies -- Sun Microsystems Computer Co., SunSoft, JavaSoft, SunService, and Sun Microelectronics. He will also oversee Sun's research and development group, SunLabs and the office of the chief technology officer. He will be responsible in overseeing engineering, research and development, manufacturing operations, marketing, sales, service and support.

Previously chief financial officer, Lehman was promoted to vice president of corporate resources and chief financial officer with management responsibilities for the company's finance, legal, human resources, real estate and information resource issues.

Raduchel, formerly chief information officer, has been promoted to the newly created position of chief strategy officer and will continue to oversee all corporate development in addition to contributing to the company's long term strategy and planning.

--Cheri Paquet, IDG News Service

Sun announces JavaPOS for retailer applications

Paris (January 20, 1998) -- Sun Microsystems Inc. is hoping Java will make cash registers ring with its announcement yesterday of a specification backed by IBM Corp. and NCR Corp. for development of applications used in store systems and machines.

Sun and its partners on JavaPOS are going after the installed base of applications using Microsoft Corp.'s OLE Point of Sale (OPOS) specification. JavaPOS is mapped exactly to the OPOS spec, so that OPOS applications can easily be moved to Java, according to Sun.

The JavaPOS tools for point of sales systems are designed for the development of applications that will run on the whole gamut of machines connected to a retail company's network -- from a telephone or a smartcard reader to a PC or a sales register. Sun sees stores using Java not only to link up applications across the Internet, but also as a means to develop new applications, such as those for gathering information about customers' buying patterns.

Apart from Sun, IBM and NCR, some members of the U.S.-based National Retail Federation's IT Council are supporting JavaPOS, as are IT vendors including Epson Inc., Fujitsu/ICL, and Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG.

--Joanne Taaffe, IDG News Service


Sun earnings beat Wall Street's expectations

San Francisco January 15, 1998 -- Sun Microsystems Inc.'s second-quarter earnings beat Wall Street expectations today when the workstation maker reported a 25 percent year-over-year rise in net earnings.

Excluding one-time acquisition charges, Sun's net income in the second quarter, ended Dec. 28, was $223.2 million, on revenue of $2.45 billion. Revenues were up 18 percent compared with the second quarter of fiscal 1997, the company said in a statement.

Earnings per share -- excluding one-time charges related to the acquisitions of Encore Computer Corp.'s storage products business and of Chorus Systems SA -- was 57 cents, an increase of 24 percent compared with last year's earnings per share of 46 cents, according to the company.

Analysts polled by First Call had expected Sun to post earnings per share of 54 cents.

Including one-time charges, net income for the quarter was $149.4 million, and earnings per share totaled 38 cents.

"Rumors are that Unix is dying, if this dying it sure feels good!" Scott McNealy, Sun's CEO, said in a statement.

Sun and other Unix vendors have recently been feeling the heat from lower-cost Windows NT-based PC workstations. Earlier this week, Sun announced two new workstation lines. (See, "Three new workstations fill out Sun's PCI line.")

At its current rate, Sun expects to spend more than $1 billion in research and development in fiscal 1998, the company said.

--Torsten Busse, IDG News Service


SunClient Support: New service support for Sun's Darwin product family

San Francisco January 13, 1998 -- With the fanfare of Sun's announcement of its new Darwin product line also came the announcement of SunClient Support -- Sun's low-cost workstation and network computer support.

The birth of Darwin, Sun's new family of low-end workstations, precipitated the need for a low-cost way to provide service support. According to Sun, SunClient Support offers customers cost-effective way to receive workstation and network computer support: $276 per year for the Ultra 5 network computer.

The three product offerings under the SunClient Support program include:

--Stephanie Steenbergen


CES: McNealy touts Java gizmos, TCI deal

San Francisco (January 9, 1998) -- Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy painted a rosy, futuristic picture here tonight of the convergence of consumer electronics and networked computing, one in which Sun's Java programming language provides the enabling technology.

McNealy was joined in a video link by John Malone, chairman and CEO of cable giant Tele-Communications Inc. Malone informed the crowd of the deal announced earlier today in which TCI will include PersonalJava in millions of set-top boxes that it and its affiliates will distribute to households in early 1999. The boxes will allow consumers to access services like home shopping, home banking and the Internet via their televisions, he said.

"PersonalJava gives us a broad development environment in which people can develop a wealth of applications that will run without concern for the microprocessor or the operating system," Malone said.

"And you thought we were going to get aced by Microsoft," McNealy bragged, reacting to eleventh-hour reports that Sun and Microsoft Corp. had been battling to win the TCI endorsement.

The keynote was in many ways a testimony to the growing importance of consumer electronics to the computing industry, as devices like cellular phones, pocket computers and televisions become the vehicles consumers use to access services like electronic mail, home banking, home shopping, and surfing the Internet.

"It's kind of weird for me to be here," McNealy said at the outset of his address. "I don't usually go to Comdex, and this is my first year at CES. Why us? I'm wondering, too." The answer, he said: Java, and in particular PersonalJava, Sun's software platform created specifically for network-connectable consumer devices, the reference implementation for which was announced here this week.

The bulk of his keynote was given over to demonstrations of Java's capabilities. He showed off the Nokia 9000 "Web phone" which runs the Java Virtual Machine, connects to the Internet via a network port, and includes a full keyboard. He also displayed set-top box software jointly developed with OpenTV Inc. which enables users to connect to the Internet via their television sets to find out about local news, weather and entertainment, as well as order products being advertised on television commercials, he said.

He also demonstrated Audible, an online library database that lets users search for and purchase books, magazines and other products; a Java-powered cash register; and showed a video of the Networked Car, a futuristic vehicle which incorporates Java in numerous networked applications.

He sported a ring built using an embedded Java chip and the Java Smart Card API, which he said could be worn by students as a means of identification to allow them to purchase meals without cash, and to gain access to campus buildings, for example.

But most of his enthusiasm was saved for Sun's deal with TCI, and its potential to generate a wealth of applications for set-top boxes by allowing developers to write software without being tied to a single operating system. The deal is viewed as an important victory for Sun in its battle with archrival Microsoft, which has also announced that its Windows operating system will be included in some TCI set-top boxes.

"This is huge, this is big," McNealy said in a question and answer period after the keynote. "Our ultimate challenge is to stop people writing in platform-specific code and get them writing to the Java API and to platform-independent code. We'll get that done by proliferating sites and machines that run Java," he said.

As well as providing PersonalJava as the underlying software layer for TCI, Sun would ideally like to provide the "full stack of software" for the set-top boxes, said Marge Breya, Sun's director of marketing. "We'd like to see Chorus, the small-footprint operating system we bought recently, running on top of PersonalJava, and then put OpenTV on top of Chorus," she said.

McNealy urged consumer electronics manufacturers to buy into his Java vision. "The opportunity for you is to put the steaming coffee cup Java logo on your product; that's our goal," he said.

--James Niccolai, IDG News Service


Sun and TCI Communications announce deal to install PersonalJava in set-tops

San Francisco (January 9, 1998) -- Sun today announced a deal with TCI Communications, Inc. to incorporate Sun's PersonalJava as a standard software application environment in its advanced digital set-top-boxes for televisions.

The deal came only one day after Sun released the final version of its PersonalJava specification to licensees.

PersonalJava is Sun's software platform designed for running Java applications on small consumer devices like TV set-top boxes, hand-held computers and Web-enabled telephones.

Bruce Ravenel, a senior vice president at TCI said his company hopes to put one set-top box in every household. He said TCI plans to purchase and deploy between six and ten million set-top boxes over the next three years.

Alan Baratz, president of JavaSoft, and Chet Silvesteri, president of Sun Microelectronics, call this agreement a major endorsement of Sun's programming and application environment, which will allow applets to be automatically downloaded by the user via cable networks, Web phones, mobile phones and set-top boxes

--Stephanie Steenbergen


CES: Sun, Spyglass unveil PersonalJava platform, browser

Las Vegas (January 8, 1998) -- Sun Microsystems Inc. has released to licensees the final version of PersonalJava, its software platform designed for running Java applications on small consumer devices like TV set-top boxes, hand-held computers and Web-enabled telephones, the company said today at the Consumer Electronics Show here.

Sun expects products based on the PersonalJava reference implemention, which could also include navigation systems for automobiles and game consoles, to ship sometime during 1998. The platform has been licensed by more than a dozen companies so far including Acorn Computer Group PLC, Geoworks Corp., Lucent Technologies Inc., and Psion Software Inc., Sun said. The companies will incorporate the platform into their own real-time operating systems or else use it to build consumer devices, Sun said.

Relatedly, Sun said it has released a beta version of Personal WebAccess, a small-scale Web browser for use in devices that run the PersonalJava platform, which it codeveloped with Internet pioneer Spyglass Inc.

The browser is written in the Java programming language and designed as a component or building block for Java-based software applications. The software supports HTML 3.2, HTTP 1.1, tables, frames, cookies and the GIF and JPEG media formats, Sun said.

--James Niccolai, IDG News Service


CES: Sun, Visa to cooperate on Java cards

Las Vegas(January 8, 1998)- Sun Microsystems Inc. said today it will receive aid from credit card company Visa International Inc. in developing a smart-card microprocessor core based on the Java operating environment.

Under the agreement, the two companies will jointly develop cards based on Sun's Java Card specification. Visa expects to introduce Java Cards in the middle of this year, the companies said. Other details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Smart cards are similar in appearance to credit cards, but contain a computer chip that allows them to store information about things like bank accounts, frequent flyer miles or cash.

Sun said it is trying to promote its Java Card as an industry standard that would offer a range of businesses from banks to healthcare providers a single smart-card platform. The Java Card also offers compatibility with existing cards and card readers, the company said.

Last October the company released an application programming interface for Java Cards called Java Card 2.0, and it has existing agreements with both card and semiconductor suppliers, including Siemens Semiconductors, Gemplus SA and Schlumberger SA.

The Java Card API is available for downloading at

--Rob Guth, IDG News Service

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