That’s an alarmist question, but recent goings on at Oracle suggest something is changing.
Today there was an eye opening story on InfoWorld about a letter from a ‘former high ranking Java official’ (maybe one of the Java Evangelist team recently laid off?), that
… the company [Oracle] was becoming a cloud company, competing with Salesforce, and “Java has no interest to them anymore.” The subject line cited “Java — planned obsolescence.”
This follows the recent layoffs in August/September of several key players on their Java evangelist team: Simon Ritter, Cameron Purdy, James Weaver, and others.
Maybe I’m scraping the barrel for facts here, but I noticed earlier this year that the java.net site hadn’t been updated with any new stories or updates since April:
And @javanetbuzz, who used to tweet Java related stories from the java.net site hasn’t tweeted since February 18th this year:
Incidentally, this might just be horribly bad timing, but both java.net and netbeans.org websites have been down today:
So have Oracle been quietly ramping down their Java related efforts this year? JavaOne is only 3 weeks away at this point – is there going to be some news or announcement from Oracle about their plans for Java, or are they just going to continue as if nothing has changed?
Updated: As I wrote this, java.net is back with this message (although this is dated from a few days back, so I’m assuming this message was already there on the site for a few days):
Given Microsoft’s focus on a single, combined version of Windows for all devices, desktop, tablets and phones, Tim Cook, Apple CEO, has said in a recent interview that he believes desktop and mobile operating systems should be separate:
We don’t believe in having one operating system for PC and mobile … We think it subtracts from both, and you don’t get the best experience from either. We’re very much focused on two.
… and I have to believe this too. I can understand from a cost reduction point of view that if you’re developing a mobile OS for phones/tablets and also a desktop OS at the same time, the attraction of merging your development efforts to a single product would be attractive to reduce development costs from shared assets, smaller development team, combined testing efforts etc.
The problem with this approach that Cook mentions, is that a mobile device compared to a desktop (or even laptop device) are such radically different user experiences, that any attempt to combine the two to a single common product is going to be a compromise that is going to impact the ability to capitalize on the key features that differentiate a mobile device from a desktop device and vice versa.
I’ve thought this for a while now seeing Microsoft, in my opinion, struggle to find the right balance of common features across device types with Windows 8 and now Windows 10. And yet, haven’t they already been down this path before with Windows Mobile on smart phones back in the early to mid 2000s? Anyone rememeber trying to use the Start menu on a phone in the early 2000s with a stylus? It was a terrible user experience – worked well on the desktop with a mouse, but translated very pooly to a small screen either touch or pen based. But, Microsoft believes they can still get this right. Uhuh. Call us when you’ve got something worth looking at.
I’ve been wondering for a while whether Virtual Reality is just one of the technologies that is technically amazing but only has niche use cases, and is probably doomed to never become mainstream. The fact that Facebook bought Oculus for $2bn has puzzled me for a while though. Is Zuckerberg planning a virtual reality interface for Facebook? That’s kind of weird and puzzling (I’ll come back to this thought in a minute).
There’s been a lot of movement in this space recently. Possibly the flashiest demos have been Microsoft’s video demos of their Hololens, but according to some sources this is still at least 5 years out before it becomes a real product. Sony’s Project Morpheus was renamed Playstation VR recently, promising to be released for the PS4 ‘some time soon’. Given the ever decreasing lifetimes for current gen consoles, this probably means a lot sooner than Microsoft’s plans, probably within a couple of years at most.
Oculus Rift has been in development for a long time, before recently getting bought by Facebook. Dev kits have been available for some time, and their site says coming Q1 2016. That’s pretty soon (within months at this point).
Now back to Facebook. Yesterday they announced and released a number of ‘360 videos’ that play from your Facebook stream in your browser. As the video plays you can drag it around to look in all directions as it’s playing. It’s pretty cool. However, the ultimate coolness is when you view the video in the Facebook app on your Android phone… the video moves with the gyroscope sensors in the phone. It’s incredible.. you have to see it to believe it, it’s probably one of the coolest things I’ve seen for a while. So are we now seeing where we’re heading with Virtual Reality and Facebook’s plans for the Oculus Rift? Maybe so. However, I’m not sure I want to wear a headset to browse my feed or even watch casual videos, but the gyroscopic 360 vision on your phone. Wow. Very cool. Let’s see some more, Facebook.
I like this analogy in this article from SD Times, Think of Clouds as Restaurants. Marty Puranik makes the point that as Cloud service providers cut costs in a ‘battle to the bottom’ to compete with each other, it’s far more important to look at the services they each provide rather than just the cost per unit of whatever.