Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Google and Sun Announce Partnership

Yesterday, Google and Sun announced they are best buddies. The press is speculating Google and Sun will join forces to challenge the dominance of Microsoft Office, but the facts are fuzzy. According to a story at USA Today:
What is known: Google is buying computers from Sun. Sun is buying ads from Google. And the companies are bundling Google's Toolbar and Sun's Java, both pieces of free software designed to improve the Web-surfing experience. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

From an Associated Press story:
"There really isn't much depth to this partnership," said industry analyst Rob Enderle.

"I think Eric [Schmidt] is doing this as personal favor for Scott [McNealy]," he said. "It provides a certain amount of press and visibility to Sun when there hasn't been very many positive things going on at the company."

So the benefits for Sun are obvious. What I don't understand is what this means for Google. They don't appear to have a huge investment in Java or the J2EE stack. There doesn't appear to be much synergy there. They have been playing with free email and other web applications, but Gmail is still in Beta after 1-1/2 years. They have a very successful search engine and advertisement-based revenue model. Does Google really want to take on Microsoft Office?

My guess is the founders are too smart for that -- unless they just aren't old enough to remember Borland, Lotus, Novell, Corel and the other losers in the office suite wars.


Bob said...

To it sounds like they decided to announce a "partnership" in order to generate cool press speculation. More benefit to Sun than Google. There's no real meat. Including the Google toolbar in the JRE install? Yawn. Google is buying some Sun hardware. Yawn.

It reminds me of Scott McNealy making a big deal at JavaOne that AOL disks would include the latest JRE install. Even with billions of these CDs floating around the planet it doesn't appar that it made any impact.

Pete said...

On a strategic level, Sun's McNealy has always said 'The network is the computer'. That pretty much sums up how I think Google thinks about things as well. How this will play out in the near term is hard to say but at the astronaut level it kind of makes sense.

Dave Delay said...

Here's some more speculation on Google Office: Google, Sun to jointly develop better news conferences. (via Bob)

Bob said...

I won't say that there's nothing that Sun and Google could do toghether, just nothing that's been shown yet.

Sun is full of smart people but it's not clear how a company that produced Java and expensive hardware is an attractive partner for Google. Google doesn't invest in the type of high-end hardware that Sun sells. They use cheap commodity hardware. So far this deal is vapor.