Sun CEO talks about iPhone and Java and near-death experiences

[podtech content=http://media.podtech.net/media/2007/01/PID_001843/Podtech_jonathan_schwartz_011607.flv&postURL=http://www.podtech.net/scobleshow/technology/1322/sun-microsystems-ceo-we-almost-died&totalTime=2498000&breadcrumb=3F34K2L1]

“We almost died,” Jonathan told me. He was referring, at that point, to Sun Microsystems, but he could be talking about himself (he talked to me about surviving a train wreck in the 1980s — that question was thanks to a reader here who pointed out that he talked about it on his blog but didn’t give many details).

We started out in the executive briefing center, where he gives us a quick tour before sitting down with me and Solaris CTO Tim Marsland in a conference room.

We talk about Java and the iPhone too. First, call out to Michael Gartenberg who points to John Markoff of the New York Times, who got this quote.

Markoff: “What about all those plugins that live within Safari now, like Flash or like Java or like JavaScript?”

Jobs: “Well, JavaScript’s built into the Phone. Sure.”

Markoff: “And what are you thinking about Flash and Java?”

Jobs: “Java’s not worth building in. Nobody uses Java anymore. It’s this big heavyweight ball and chain.”

Interesting to hear Schwartz’ side of the story — I ask him what his pitch to Steve Jobs is to get Java on the iPhone. He claims that Java is being downloaded 20 million times a month and is on about a billion cell phones with tons of apps. Claims Java is one of the most recognized brands in the world.

Here’s my side of the conversation.

0-4:00 getting tour of executive briefing center and chit chatting.
4:09: why are you feeling good about this point in Sun’s history?
6:13: what are the trends you think are important to pay attention to in 2007?
6:39: you had to bring Steve Jobs into this conversation, didn’t you?
7:36: I was at CES. We partied so you didn’t have to.
8:04: Talking about phones … talking about the iPhone, Apple/Steve Jobs new thing, it’s a closed box. They have been telling bloggers and journalists that they are not going to allow third-party software on it. It sounds like a smackdown to Java. If Steve Jobs was here right now, what would your pitch be giving him to opening that thing up?
11:53: He told reporters that ‘ah, I don’t want people building software for mobile phones because they’ll take down the West Coast of Cingular.’ That’s clearly not true because we have lots of phones with .NET and Java apps on them and Cingular seems to stay up for some reason.
12:35: A good example of this is in Seattle, when I lived there, I had a traffic app that I downloaded off of a site and put on my phone. That app was built by third-party. Not by Cingular. That’s the kind of innovation I want on my iPhone. It seems that Steve will force me to buy two phones.
15:03: the Blackbox is a shipping container … with an Ethernet jack on the side (laughs).
17:05: Have you sold some [of the Blackbox's] yet?
17:44: I would think the government would buy some of those because if there’s a major disaster like Katrina…
18:05: So, tell me why Solaris is relevant.
20:35: Can you tell me a little bit about what Solaris does in the Web 2.0 space?
22:05: How does Solaris help you build multi-threaded apps where Windows and OSX don’t?
22:50: I was just at Intel and saw their new fab and saw they are building two and four core chips…
25:46: For Web 2.0 companies … they are really cost conscious. Sun has this reputation … (Discussion about how much Sun’s stuff costs and its reputation for being expensive).
29:00 Are you using Seagate drives? (Fun aside about new kind of advertising)
31:37: That’s the brilliance of your blogging — people can go there, leave a comment, and tell you what you’re doing wrong. (Turns to Tim) What kind of challenges get you up in the morning?
32:56: What is going to be surprising coming from Sun Microsystems? What is going to be your “iPhone?”
35:41: On your blog you had the ‘five things you don’t know about me’ post and you said you were in a train wreck and that profoundly changed your life. Can you tell me how it was profound?
37:10: What is it about leaders that an event like that causes them to lead?
39:20: Jonathan turned the conversation toward Sun’s near-death experience: “Sun had a life-changing experience. We almost died.”

Sorry about the abrupt end of the tape. The tape had a major glitch right toward the end of the interview. Aarrgghh, I hate that when it happens.

Comments

  1. Great job, definitely a fun watch, well, as fun as 41 minutes on Sun can be. The part on the data center was really interesting.

    Side note- that is my first time seeing the Podtech embedded player- it looks awesome.

  2. Great job, definitely a fun watch, well, as fun as 41 minutes on Sun can be. The part on the data center was really interesting.

    Side note- that is my first time seeing the Podtech embedded player- it looks awesome.

  3. Robert, have you actually read/seen Job’s interviews on third party software on the iPhone, or are you still using Beuhler sourcing?

    He’s said that Apple realizes they can’t be the only source of software on the phone, but that it has to be controlled so the phone works at all times. Hell read the interview on the NYT:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/11/technology/11cnd-apple.html?ei=5070&en=36ec99469fcbd1de&ex=1169269200&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1169098584-0V1KKUzCqG6UhUlRBR86Eg

    “You don’t want your phone to be like a PC. The last thing you want is to have loaded three apps on your phone and then you go to make a call and it doesn’t work anymore. These are more like iPods than they are like computers.”

    That doesn’t mean there’s not going to be software to buy that you can load on them coming from us. It doesn’t mean we have to write it all, but it means it has to be more of a controlled environment.”

    VOIP is as yet undecided:

    During an interview on Tuesday, he said that Apple had not decided whether to enable a voice-over-Internet service like Skype — a potentially divisive issue for Cingular, the exclusive carrier for the iPhone, because it could come at the expense of cellular voice revenue.

    The Cingular network going down statement is just dumb. It doesn’t work that way.

    However, note that most of the “he said” articles are based off of two sources…an MSNBC article at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16566968/site/newsweek/ and the aformentioned NYT article.

    Why not just READ them yourself?

  4. Robert, have you actually read/seen Job’s interviews on third party software on the iPhone, or are you still using Beuhler sourcing?

    He’s said that Apple realizes they can’t be the only source of software on the phone, but that it has to be controlled so the phone works at all times. Hell read the interview on the NYT:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/11/technology/11cnd-apple.html?ei=5070&en=36ec99469fcbd1de&ex=1169269200&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1169098584-0V1KKUzCqG6UhUlRBR86Eg

    “You don’t want your phone to be like a PC. The last thing you want is to have loaded three apps on your phone and then you go to make a call and it doesn’t work anymore. These are more like iPods than they are like computers.”

    That doesn’t mean there’s not going to be software to buy that you can load on them coming from us. It doesn’t mean we have to write it all, but it means it has to be more of a controlled environment.”

    VOIP is as yet undecided:

    During an interview on Tuesday, he said that Apple had not decided whether to enable a voice-over-Internet service like Skype — a potentially divisive issue for Cingular, the exclusive carrier for the iPhone, because it could come at the expense of cellular voice revenue.

    The Cingular network going down statement is just dumb. It doesn’t work that way.

    However, note that most of the “he said” articles are based off of two sources…an MSNBC article at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16566968/site/newsweek/ and the aformentioned NYT article.

    Why not just READ them yourself?

  5. John: what’s interesting is that Java is a runtime that should separate its working from the OS pretty effectively. It’s extremely rare for a .NET or Java app to take down the host OS (it’s almost impossible unless someone goes around the runtime and makes a direct API call or does some very weird coding).

    I’ve been using .NET and Java apps on my phone without any troubles at all. And my phone does not have a “controlled environment.”

    I think Apple wants to control the environment so they can collect a fee, just like cell phone providers who made billions off of ring tones.

  6. John: what’s interesting is that Java is a runtime that should separate its working from the OS pretty effectively. It’s extremely rare for a .NET or Java app to take down the host OS (it’s almost impossible unless someone goes around the runtime and makes a direct API call or does some very weird coding).

    I’ve been using .NET and Java apps on my phone without any troubles at all. And my phone does not have a “controlled environment.”

    I think Apple wants to control the environment so they can collect a fee, just like cell phone providers who made billions off of ring tones.

  7. Robert, I would gladly listen to this interview during my commuting to work but you have no audio-only version (MP3). I kindly ask you, with sugar on top, to offer also audio-only versions of your interviews – as Diggnation does…

  8. Robert, I would gladly listen to this interview during my commuting to work but you have no audio-only version (MP3). I kindly ask you, with sugar on top, to offer also audio-only versions of your interviews – as Diggnation does…

  9. Robert, you’re confusing crashing the the phone with causing it not to work. I’ve seen both. If the application eats resources until you can’t use any other function on the phone, you still have to reboot. That’s bad, and I see that a lot on my Pocket PCs that I support. I see a lot of Java phones that you have to reset a lot. For some reason, AIM does it on some Razrs. Treos are worse, they just love to get into reset cycles.

    A sandbox is not a magic spell against out of control resource usage or problems, and contrary to what Schwartz may think, I’ve seen Java applications eat OS’s alive. That’s a good runtime, not a perfect one. The same for .Net applications on Windows/Windows Mobile.

    The phone must always work, and if that means locking down third – party applications to make sure of it, then so be it. I know i’m about to start recommending we do the same to all our SmartPhones/Treos.

  10. Robert, you’re confusing crashing the the phone with causing it not to work. I’ve seen both. If the application eats resources until you can’t use any other function on the phone, you still have to reboot. That’s bad, and I see that a lot on my Pocket PCs that I support. I see a lot of Java phones that you have to reset a lot. For some reason, AIM does it on some Razrs. Treos are worse, they just love to get into reset cycles.

    A sandbox is not a magic spell against out of control resource usage or problems, and contrary to what Schwartz may think, I’ve seen Java applications eat OS’s alive. That’s a good runtime, not a perfect one. The same for .Net applications on Windows/Windows Mobile.

    The phone must always work, and if that means locking down third – party applications to make sure of it, then so be it. I know i’m about to start recommending we do the same to all our SmartPhones/Treos.

  11. PLEASE — PLEASE The quality of the audio on these videos is TERRIBLE. You have to turn up the volume to hear the voices, but other noises are VERY LOUD. I hear this over and over on the videos. Please, use microphones attached to your subjects!!

  12. PLEASE — PLEASE The quality of the audio on these videos is TERRIBLE. You have to turn up the volume to hear the voices, but other noises are VERY LOUD. I hear this over and over on the videos. Please, use microphones attached to your subjects!!

  13. “I think Apple wants to control the environment so they can collect a fee, just like cell phone providers who made billions off of ring tones.”

    Usually what you think is wrong so why do we care? We almost 6 months away from availability, it would be produent to let the app environment develop slowly… so why are you shoving your foot in your mouth 1 year ahead of time?

    Oh, because you’re a hit whore.

  14. “I think Apple wants to control the environment so they can collect a fee, just like cell phone providers who made billions off of ring tones.”

    Usually what you think is wrong so why do we care? We almost 6 months away from availability, it would be produent to let the app environment develop slowly… so why are you shoving your foot in your mouth 1 year ahead of time?

    Oh, because you’re a hit whore.

  15. It’s hilarious that Schwartz talks about a closed system locking out content, and then… He says how Apple has all this content produced by other sources! Exactly, Schwartz, as a media phone it far exceeds any other option because it has the widest and deepest library of content.

    And, yes, Google uses Java, but on the server-side and when it needs to port its web apps to mobiles because they have horrible browsers. Which is why it’s unnecessary on the iPhone: Gmail will work just fine within Safari.

    As for content merging with applications: I don’t see it happening. This usually happens because a web app/pahe looks like crap on a mobile. So first it goes from web-delivered content to … guess what?… content LOCKED INTO an application that it doesn’t need to be if the web browser could deliver it in the first place the way it was intended. Again, not a problem for Safari. So why should we be locking content into Java apps? This is an old complaint about Flash… fortunately, again, Safari will probably be able to handle Flash-based apps.

    What I would like explained is why Apple needs .Net (which Microsoft claimed was portable but they have never put any legitimate effort into porting to another platform) or Java? Put aside whether or not Apple will allow 3rd aprty developers (the fact that Google and Yahoo are both in on the ground floor should pretty much moot that argument anyway, but…), why does Apple need a 3rd party’s runtime? Why wouldn’t I rather code native apps for the platform? If the desire to code for the platform is so great, it shouldn’t be a huge obstacle to ask the devs to use native APIs… and if devs b!tch about needing to use native code rather than being able to port a poorly coded Java app from the Symbian platform, well, too bad.

  16. It’s hilarious that Schwartz talks about a closed system locking out content, and then… He says how Apple has all this content produced by other sources! Exactly, Schwartz, as a media phone it far exceeds any other option because it has the widest and deepest library of content.

    And, yes, Google uses Java, but on the server-side and when it needs to port its web apps to mobiles because they have horrible browsers. Which is why it’s unnecessary on the iPhone: Gmail will work just fine within Safari.

    As for content merging with applications: I don’t see it happening. This usually happens because a web app/pahe looks like crap on a mobile. So first it goes from web-delivered content to … guess what?… content LOCKED INTO an application that it doesn’t need to be if the web browser could deliver it in the first place the way it was intended. Again, not a problem for Safari. So why should we be locking content into Java apps? This is an old complaint about Flash… fortunately, again, Safari will probably be able to handle Flash-based apps.

    What I would like explained is why Apple needs .Net (which Microsoft claimed was portable but they have never put any legitimate effort into porting to another platform) or Java? Put aside whether or not Apple will allow 3rd aprty developers (the fact that Google and Yahoo are both in on the ground floor should pretty much moot that argument anyway, but…), why does Apple need a 3rd party’s runtime? Why wouldn’t I rather code native apps for the platform? If the desire to code for the platform is so great, it shouldn’t be a huge obstacle to ask the devs to use native APIs… and if devs b!tch about needing to use native code rather than being able to port a poorly coded Java app from the Symbian platform, well, too bad.

  17. My Baby Loves Robert Scoble

    Strange experience tonight with Tim Marsland, Robert Scoble, Jonathan
    Schwartz, and Emiri Tanaka Grisanzio (aka: my kid). Interesting mix,
    eh? Especially since we are separated by about 6,000 miles. This is
    what happened …

    I was watching Scoble

  18. @8 John, you know the answer to that. Scoble is incapable of reading beyond two sentences of any article. That’s the price he pays for being addicted to RSS. I find it funny he doesn’t like partial feeds, because it is clear he doesn’t read complete feeds anyway.

  19. @8 John, you know the answer to that. Scoble is incapable of reading beyond two sentences of any article. That’s the price he pays for being addicted to RSS. I find it funny he doesn’t like partial feeds, because it is clear he doesn’t read complete feeds anyway.

  20. Hey Robert, thanks for providing that text indexing into the richer media stream! It helps us out here in the audience to figure what to focus on, what we might learn where.

    jd

  21. Hey Robert, thanks for providing that text indexing into the richer media stream! It helps us out here in the audience to figure what to focus on, what we might learn where.

    jd

  22. scobble, you laugh too much & too laudly during this interview, it’s beginning to become a bad habit. It really detracts from the rest of the video.

  23. scobble, you laugh too much & too laudly during this interview, it’s beginning to become a bad habit. It really detracts from the rest of the video.

  24. Java on phones?? Having people download it 20 million times does nothing to improve the performance of applications built on them! Java for embedded apps is just another waste of time and energy!
    BTW, I am not a Microsoft fan either! In fact, I’d rather do with Java than with a highly modified clone of the same -.Net!

  25. Java on phones?? Having people download it 20 million times does nothing to improve the performance of applications built on them! Java for embedded apps is just another waste of time and energy!
    BTW, I am not a Microsoft fan either! In fact, I’d rather do with Java than with a highly modified clone of the same -.Net!

  26. >scobble, you laugh too much & too laudly during this interview

    agrreed. really really annoying, esp with sound levels of other 2 guys being much lower, then scoble gufaws and explodes?! – hurts my ear, and totally innapropriate. the interviews are great and informative, they don’t need to be entertainment with humour. scoble’s great as straight interviewer. the laughter and constant nodding show insecurity?

    other than that cool

  27. >scobble, you laugh too much & too laudly during this interview

    agrreed. really really annoying, esp with sound levels of other 2 guys being much lower, then scoble gufaws and explodes?! – hurts my ear, and totally innapropriate. the interviews are great and informative, they don’t need to be entertainment with humour. scoble’s great as straight interviewer. the laughter and constant nodding show insecurity?

    other than that cool

  28. After initially wondering if you were mad to join PodTech, I’m starting to like (some of) your interviews. Loved the Om one, Bill Gates (did he call you anti-American?) and this one is good, too. Not having a lot of time, I have pick what I choose to view.

    Is there a place where I can vote on people I’d like to see you interview? You’re actually a good interviewer. That question to Gates about MSFT doing something to help the environment shed a lot of light on the man’s thinking, which is that he doesn’t.

    BTW, I agree with switters above on the sound level of your laughing. I like the laugh, just not the loudness. Please don’t stop laughing, though.

  29. After initially wondering if you were mad to join PodTech, I’m starting to like (some of) your interviews. Loved the Om one, Bill Gates (did he call you anti-American?) and this one is good, too. Not having a lot of time, I have pick what I choose to view.

    Is there a place where I can vote on people I’d like to see you interview? You’re actually a good interviewer. That question to Gates about MSFT doing something to help the environment shed a lot of light on the man’s thinking, which is that he doesn’t.

    BTW, I agree with switters above on the sound level of your laughing. I like the laugh, just not the loudness. Please don’t stop laughing, though.

  30. scobble, maybe you should place the mic opposite of you, or do some sound editing during publishing. I understand a hearty laugh, but when everything else is so quiet you have to turn the audio up, and then your healthy hearty laugh comes in and it just blows your ear drums.

    I’m sure there are ways to normalize the audio

  31. scobble, maybe you should place the mic opposite of you, or do some sound editing during publishing. I understand a hearty laugh, but when everything else is so quiet you have to turn the audio up, and then your healthy hearty laugh comes in and it just blows your ear drums.

    I’m sure there are ways to normalize the audio

  32. Vista: downloadable, upgradeable, volumelicensable

    That’s a nice view: IT Blogwatch, in which people will soon be able to download Vista, upgrade it, and even have a volume license for home use. Not to mention 29 liquids which should never be allowed on commercial aircraft…

  33. Hi, thanks for the interview.

    I want to point out an important thing that you really need to know. your laughs are quite awesome, believe it or not i mute the speaker once you laugh, once i hear your breath is coming out of your chest!
    For god sake, try to be calm on such interviews.

    Sorry for this if it comes harsh on you, but you really have to work on it.

    I think that i have that the same experience as Apple has with Java.

  34. Hi, thanks for the interview.

    I want to point out an important thing that you really need to know. your laughs are quite awesome, believe it or not i mute the speaker once you laugh, once i hear your breath is coming out of your chest!
    For god sake, try to be calm on such interviews.

    Sorry for this if it comes harsh on you, but you really have to work on it.

    I think that i have that the same experience as Apple has with Java.

  35. Did Steve learn the first time around that being a closed ecosystem was bad for Apples business?

    So now he’s going to make the same mistake by being first, but having a closed ecosystems. So when the copycats get it right and mimic the iPhone, but they make it open Apples looses out again.

    How can a man with so much talent be so dumb some times?

    Cheers
    Shane

  36. Did Steve learn the first time around that being a closed ecosystem was bad for Apples business?

    So now he’s going to make the same mistake by being first, but having a closed ecosystems. So when the copycats get it right and mimic the iPhone, but they make it open Apples looses out again.

    How can a man with so much talent be so dumb some times?

    Cheers
    Shane

  37. Steve Jobs lets iPod success clog his freaking mind becoming too elegant. He will eventually dug himself a grave and is doin it now as in the late 80′s and early 90.s.
    History will repeat itself. iPhone is the beginning of the doom Apple. iPhone will open the flood gate of next generation of windowCE conquer the world with the help of Chinese and Indian tech firms by dumping all sort of newer generation of iPhone alike WinCE toys to the world as in the past DOS quietly dominated teh world.
    Another issue, Java is not death. I wouldn’t denial Java could be paint in the eyes with huge processing resources demand from the core cpu and memories, but java codes for write once read in many platform capability is beyond any other available cross platform programming could handle efficiently. Steve Jobs is blind in this area.

  38. Steve Jobs lets iPod success clog his freaking mind becoming too elegant. He will eventually dug himself a grave and is doin it now as in the late 80′s and early 90.s.
    History will repeat itself. iPhone is the beginning of the doom Apple. iPhone will open the flood gate of next generation of windowCE conquer the world with the help of Chinese and Indian tech firms by dumping all sort of newer generation of iPhone alike WinCE toys to the world as in the past DOS quietly dominated teh world.
    Another issue, Java is not death. I wouldn’t denial Java could be paint in the eyes with huge processing resources demand from the core cpu and memories, but java codes for write once read in many platform capability is beyond any other available cross platform programming could handle efficiently. Steve Jobs is blind in this area.

  39. Why there are 1 mil of iPhone missing?
    Probably half of them is use as book weight due to lack of Java and other applications limited within the device. Best example, I bought a new HTC replace my 2 months old iPhone because the Java and applications issue.

  40. Why there are 1 mil of iPhone missing?
    Probably half of them is use as book weight due to lack of Java and other applications limited within the device. Best example, I bought a new HTC replace my 2 months old iPhone because the Java and applications issue.

  41. I think, anyone can decide to install 3-part application or not. Want to use it as simple phone – use it, want more – get it.

  42. I think, anyone can decide to install 3-part application or not. Want to use it as simple phone – use it, want more – get it.