The honeymoon's over -- so what's next for Java?
IDC predicts Java's share of the expected $2 billion Internet development tools market and what will drive Java's growth
Boston (March 12, 1997) -- As the hype around Java gives way to a real-world appraisal of its potential, research by International Data Corp. found that even in Java's most favored area -- development tools -- less than 10 percent of companies worldwide are deploying Java applications. (See our news story, "Sun's McNealy aims Java "downgrade" kit at Windows" for Scott McNealy's response to this.)
"More than 90 percent of the money in the software industry comes from the corporate sector, so Java has to make it there if it's to make it at all," said Evan Quinn, research director of IDC's Internet software group. The same IDC study found that less than 15 percent of companies with more than 100 employees are even evaluating Java, he said.
However, the news is not all bad. A similar IDC study that polled only larger corporations -- those with more than 5,000 employees -- found that 25 percent plan to deploy Java applications this year. "It is catching on, but not as fast as the media might have you think," Quinn concluded.
By 2000, IDC predicts Java will account for almost 50 percent of the expected $2 billion market for Internet-centric development tools. This will be driven in part by companies deploying more complex Web sites, for which HTML (hypertext markup language), the current application language of choice, will not be sophisticated enough.
"As home pages get more complex there's a real chance that HTML will begin to disappear as a language for Web clients," Quinn said. "It's not programmable; you can't get objects in HTML to talk to each other."
But while Java has realized some revenues in the market for Internet applications and applications servers, it has yet to make significant inroads in the systems software market, which tends to remain dominated by HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) and HTTP-related servers, Quinn said. And IDC believes network computers will be a niche market, at least for the foreseeable future.
The success of Java depends on the commitment of members of Sun Microsystems Ltd.'s 100% Pure Java Initiative -- which includes IBM, Oracle Corp. and Netscape Communications Corp. -- to keep pushing the technology, according to Quinn.
"But these are public sector companies. Senior managers in there have their feet held to the fire every quarter for profits," he said. "The board of directors is saying, `Is [Java] really going to make us any money?' The trouble is, it's a two-, three-, perhaps four-year thing before it does."
--James Niccolai, IDG News Service, Boston Bureau
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