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Sun's Marketing Problem

Am I wrong or is Sun Microsystems completely incompetent when it comes to marketing?

I ran across this article on CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/biztech/09/16/sun.java.ap/index.html

So I think, hmm...interesting...let me read more about it.  I go to http://www.sun.com and where is this info on this grand new product?  Answer: Products & Services --> Software --> Desktop --> Java Desktop System...!

Furthermore, the Sun homepage has these topics/links displayed: "Chat with Scott" (oh, boy!), computing with threads, Sun's CTO, and something about on-line video games.  What average consumer will do more than hit the Back button?

Please tell me, is there some secret marketing technique (that I apparently can't fathom) behind all this?  Does this really work?  I would think if you had a software prodict featured in an article on CNN, you'd make it damn easy to find that product information on your website.


Russell Thackston
Java developer (and wondering why)

Russell Thackston
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

...and yet when Microsoft eats *their* lunch it's "abuse of monopoly power"

I've said it before, I'll say it again - Microsoft has rarely won anything; it's just that the other side always folds.

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Why is that all these new desktops (Sun, GNOME, KDE, etc) that are supposed to blow Windows out of the box always
resemble the windows desktop?  Maybe it is just me, but I haven't seen anything innovative or revolutionary in these other desktops.

Cletus
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Yea, because MicroSoft never copied everything from anyone!  And they certainly never copied anything from MacOS, NextStep, and now MacOSX!  And they're certainly not waiting for the next thing a Steve Jobs company does to know what to copy next!

All those Linux people need to innovate like MicroSoft, and not copy what anyone else has done!

Jim Rankin
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

I don't really see anything "innovative or revolutionary" from Windows UI either. Since Windows 3.0, they borrowed most of the good ideas from the Mac or OS/2 Warp or NextStep. MS likes to trumpet their 'new look,' but most of the time they're just borrowing from other UI's.

There's nothing wrong with copying good designs, just don't think that MS is thinking all of it up on their own...

RocketJeff
Wednesday, September 17, 2003


HP has the same problem.  A few weeks ago there was an announcement that HP was releasing dozens of new consumer oriented products.  I ran across an article on it on some geek news site, and was intrigued, so I went to HP's homepage to get some details.

Couldn't find a damn thing about it.

I work for a little company, and our marketing guys exist in their own world, I can't even imagine what it's like at a really big company.

Jason
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

This is truly sad, but at least it's good to see Sun come out fighting.  McNealy's not a visionary, but he's pretty good at enunciating the vision once it's in front of him.

The vision:  reduce the cost of computing by an order of magnitude.  Great vision.  But possible...?

Jim Rankin
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

"OS/2 Warp"

Right, and OS/2.  Forgot about that one.

Jim Rankin
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

I agree with you guys about Windows not really bringing something "new" in. But it just seems like they do have a knack for usability.

I gotta admit working with VB.NET & Java, although I like Java, VB.NET does do a lot of things that make my life easier.

GenX'er
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Actually, this is the first time in a long time that Sun does seem to have a marketing plan. It's hard to say if it's a good one, but at least it somewhat makes sense.

From the little that I've read, Sun is trying to package systems with low cost software on cheap clients connected to Sun servers.  It's a subscription based system - the network (Java Enterprise System) costing $100 / employee /year and the desktop (Java Desktop System) an addition $50 / year or $100 / year if purchased without the enterprise system.

Their target market is not the US. They're going after developing regions where the price of a PC is a substantial hurdle.

It's an interesting experiment. It will be interesting to see if it works.

Regarding the web site, man are you right. What a maze. They have reduced their number of products from 255 to just 6. Where are the direct links to the 6 products? Un-prominently in the lower left corner. If I had a 15 " w/ 800x600 (as many people still do), it would be off my screen completely.

Nick
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

I totally missed the link in the lower-left corner. 

Why do they think "Network Computing 03-Q3" is worth (approx) 20% of the page and " the first viable Microsoft Windows alternative" gets a vague, 3 word link in the bottom corner?!? 

I won't even mention how there's a prominent 15-word blurb/link to an article about the CTO (oops...I just did :-)


Russell Thackston

Russell Thackston
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

I think standardization is more important than innovation. If you're trying to sell the idea of low cost computing, than the transition should be as seemless as possible.

Nick
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Counterexample:

http://www.apple.com/

Currently showing the main products announced at yeserday's Paris Expo.  Refresh a couple times and you'll see other new products featured prominently, too.

During SteveNotes, millions of MacHeads spend their time refreshing apple.com over and over again to see the exact moment when the digital curtain is pulled back to reveal the latest bliss-inducing product release.  Can't imagine that happening for any other computer company.

Jim Rankin
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

I assume you Apple fans know that Jobs got the idea for the first Apple GUI box (the Lisa) from Xerox.  He saw a Xerox Star running at PARC and "ripped it off", if that's what you call seeing something you like and implementing it in your own product.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Yes, Jobs did get the idea from PARC - but did you ever see an example of their interface? The diference between it and the Lisa (and later, the Mac) was about the same as the difference between the original OS/2 'Presentation Manager' and the interface to OS/2 Warp (or Win 2.0 and Win 95, for the people lucky enough not to see OS/2 1.x).

I am not a 'Mac Head' (last one I owned was a 512K), but I do see Apple's (and IBM's, thorough OS/2 Warp) contribution to the UI world.

RocketJeff
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

> Actually, this is the first time in a long time that Sun does seem to have a marketing plan. It's hard to say if it's a good one, but at least it somewhat makes sense.

I agree.

It also seems to me that this is more about competing with Intel than Microsoft; the key is that great big SPARC machine, serving all those desktops.

Replace that SPARC with an IBM mainframe, or an Intel-based server (Microsoft or Linux, choose yer poison), and Sun's chance to profit goes right out the window. Thus it seems that even if this thin-client architecture prevails, Sun will be back in the same corner before long.

Portabella
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Please let's not hold up http://www.apple.com as an example of a good website. It may have up to date content but have you tried it with images disabled? I guess Apple's much-vaunted usability doesn't apply to their webshite.

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

To be fair, Apple's idea of usability is not congruent with "text-only" mode.

m
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

"It may have up to date content but have you tried it with images disabled?"

Whaddaya want?

<img alt="gorgeous aluminum 17in. Powerbook"...>
<img alt="lickable Aqua desktop"...>
<img alt="powerful looking, doubles as a cheese grater, G5"...>
<img alt="slim, shiny, sexy iPod"...>

With images turned off, what's left that you'd want to get from apple.com?

Jim Rankin
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

apple.com will be redesigned in the near future by famous Jeffrey Zeldman, which basically means: XHTML, CSS, Accessibility, with nice degradation for older browsers.

Sun - isn't that the company which proclaimed some years ago that they are "the dot in dot com"? Oh, and wait - I forgot the link to the independent committee which standardized the Java language. Can someone hook me up, please? Sun Java Desktop System - while StarOffice 7 is free and open-source, the new desktop is neither free (as in beer), nor is it open-sourced. So why do they claim it's "INDUSTRY'S FIRST AFFORDABLE AND SECURE DESKTOP"?

Johnny Bravo
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Going off on a slight tangent here...

...my understanding is that the same (design) company designed the icons for both Windows XP and Mac OS X.

Walter Rumsby
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Getting back to some of the earlier comments, I think the question is, how can Sun take on Microsoft if their strategy is to copy them, but charge less.

Less Filling!

pdq
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

It seems like they're only "copying" Microsoft on the UI; their thin-client system looks a lot different from a typical MS-based network, and probably a lot easier to admin.

Dave
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

When I visited the Apple site using Firebird it just brought up the search box. No content whatsoever.

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Thursday, September 18, 2003

What I don't get is how this is supposed to be cheaper than XP/Office?

Lets take the minimum quote there: 50$ per user per year.
I have no idea what you guys pay MS for XP and office, but with the volume licencing we pay less than that per desktop per year, and that is including CAL's.

This reminds me of the "pricing" thread we had recently: If you put up a "sales" sign in the window, sales will go up irrespective of the actual prices. Seems IT is no smarter than the average mall dwellers.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, September 18, 2003

Sun is going to take Microsoft's market away by building what the people want for future computing while Microsoft is trying to build what they want the people to have.

Mike
Friday, September 19, 2003

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