Sun melting down, and where's Java?

Oh, hey, have you heard? Sun's financial results for the quarter that just ended, which everyone knew were going to be bad, are now going to be really, really bad. Like losing 12 cents a share when they were only supposed to be losing 1 cent a share bad. Sun is not helped by the fact that many of its best customers for its profitable high-end servers are in the bankrupt Wall Street investment bank sector, though of course Sun's profits weren't exactly going like gangbusters before the meltdown went into full swing.

From my perspective, one of the most interesting things about the coverage of the company's problems is how Java figures into the conversation, which is exactly not at all. In most of the articles, the word only appears as Sun's stock ticker; the closest I could find to a mention is in this AP story, which notes that "Sun's strategy of developing free, 'open-source' software and giving it away to spur sales of its high-end computer servers and support services hasn't paid off as investors would like." Even longtime tech journalist Ashlee Vance, when gamely badgering Jon Schwartz for the New York Time about whether Sun would sell its hardware division and focus on software, only mentions Solaris and MySQL in discussing the latter.

Those in the Java community no doubt believe that Java is too big to fail, that Sun can't abandon it because it's too important, even if it can't tangibly be tied to anything profitable. But if Sun's investors eventually dismember the company to try to extract what value is left in it, I'm not sure where Java will fit into that plan. No doubt somebody would take over at least nominal stewardship, but we all may come to be very thankful that it's been released as open source.