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

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“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.

My video blockage is clearing…

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My video workflow had a few shocks applied over the past week, which stunted what I wanted to do, but the blockage is cleared and video is starting to flow.

From last week the second Retrevo gang, filmed on the second day of CES (right after Steve Jobs). The Retrevo gang is a bunch of gadget geeks who work at the Retrevo consumer search engine — they scoured the show floor for fun gadgets. Along the way they brought along Dean Takahashi, columnist for the San Jose Mercury News along with a few other industry experts and we have a fun discussion about Apple stuff, HDTV, OQO portable computers, and much more.

More stuff coming either tonight or tomorrow morning.

What do you think about the Retrevo Gang? Want us to do more of these from time-to-time?

By the way, Retrevo did this for free, which I appreciate a lot. Oh, and day 3 of the Retrevo gang is now up too.

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Saturn has hot car at Detroit Auto Show

I’m looking at buying a new car and Matt Kelly, PodTech employee, was raving about the new Saturn that just won a big award at the Detroit Auto Show. He has video about that.

In other PodTech news, Gillmor Gang, er, Calacanis Cast is now up and Irina and Eddie had lunch with MingleNow.

My own show gets back on track later today. In the meantime my link blog is up to date with dozens of juicy new posts from my favorite bloggers.

Old-school and new-school media collide at CES?

Renee Blodget, Silicon Valley PR queen, notes that press rooms and other places were a lot more crowded at CES due to more bloggers.

It’s interesting times we live in. The thing is, four years ago Engadget didn’t exist. So, in the rules of the old-school, they would never have gotten a “seat” at press conferences. Today they are the ones with millions of page views. I do note that not getting into press conferences didn’t keep Engadget from getting some of the best news at previous events. Peter Rojas and team worked their asses off last year and this year they covered CES like no one else has.

Political use of social media: Edwards (1); Obama (.5); Clinton (NA)

Hey, Barack, have you met with any bloggers yet? Edwards met with dozens on his first media stops.

Also, has any non-political blogger met with either Hillary or Barack to find out if they are doing their own blog and/or if they are really transparently available to both bloggers and mainstream press? (Edwards let me follow him around 100% of the time, even when meeting with his staff and didn’t keep me out of the back rooms).

So far no one from PodTech has been approached by either of the other two candidates.

Barack does have a good podcast, though, and Beet.TV has links to some of his other online videos.

UPDATE: MyDD says that Barack is winning in gathering blog links.

UPDATE 2: Huffington Post says Barack made the first “direct to you” announcement. Funny that they missed my interview with John Edwards as well as meetings John had with bloggers in both Iowa and in New Hampshire.

“Default” racism

Barack Obama looks like he’s going to annouce that he’s running for President (Beet.TV has a link to the news, along with news about how Barack is using online video). Already most of the press (and most political bloggers) have decided that the race for Democratic nominee is between three people: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards.

I’m getting pissed off about something I’ve noticed in my conversations. No, not when people tell me they either don’t know enough about Barack, or think he’s not experienced enough. That’s quite acceptable at this stage in the game.

But I’m throwing a little test into the conversation. I then follow up a comment like that with this: “I think he isn’t going to get elected because of the color of his skin.”

What follows my statement is what really pisses me off: I haven’t had many people disagree with me. Admittedly small sample size, but now more than 100 people.

That’s what I call “default” racism. You might call it “invisible” racism. Or something else. But it still is racism. If someone says something racist to you, and you don’t disagree, aren’t you also racist by default?

It’s also interesting that I haven’t seen the major political blogs, or Web sites, take on the issue of race and the 2008 candidacy.

Oh, and what does this have to do with technology? Not much until I start remembering my Silicon Valley childhood when I was my son’s age. I remember a neighborhood family coming around to my parents asking “we’re thinking of selling our home to a black family and wanted to let you know about it.”

I’m sick of the default. What about you?