Friday, September 26, 2003

Blame the Penguin

The Register likes to berate Wall Street for Sun's abysmal stock performance but they may want to look at Sun's financial performance as well. Or maybe not.

The point is that McNealy offering $100 desktop systems points to where the pain is really coming from. Every part of the technology stack--hardware, OS, middleware, application--wants to make every other part of the stack as cheap as possible so they can sell more kit. The $100 desktop hacks away at the middleware/application end of things saying that they are simply overpriced. It also declares Sun to be, firmly, a hardware company.

McNealy is also right in saying that companies want to buy systems, not widgets, which is why being an integrated systems company is better than being a widget company. It is certainly true that some customers want entire systems, but they want systems integrated from the business processes down, not the technology platform up. Perhaps parts of the integration business are scammy, but end users stand a better chance of being considered by consultants next door than system engineers half a world away. And I don't give them even odds with the consultants.

If you really want to find the source of Sun's woes look no further than Tux the Penguin. It's not as good as Solaris, or even NT, but it's good enough, and limiting Sun and Microsoft's ability to price is almost as damaging as costing them actual customers. It is also dramatically reduces the hardware and software development costs for Sun competitors like IBM because they can now optimize to a single OS. But the Register likes Linux, which is why it blames Wall Street. *Sigh*


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