Google and Sun – a partnership to kill Microsoft or a deal with the devil?

As you have probably already heard, Google and Sun have partnered up to distribute the Google Toolbar with Sun’s Java. While this may seem like a minor deal in the grand scheme of things, upon further reflection I find this could be the deal which will ultimately break Microsoft.

While the implications could be huge and far reaching, only Google knows for sure what it wants. We can speculate however and that’s what this article is all about. Is such a deal good for Sun (and Google) or is it a pact with the devil?

At first glance, such a deal doesn’t seem like much. After all java to most people is just a plug in for your Internet browser. What good would such a deal be to Google? Well lets take a look at what Java can do. The following is taken straight from Sun’s website:

The Java programming language is robust and versatile, enabling developers to:
Write software on one platform and run it on another.
Create programs to run within a web browser.
Develop server-side applications for online forums, stores, polls, processing HTML forms, and more.
Write applications for cell phones, two-way pagers, and other consumer devices.

Let me break this down for you – point by point:

Write software on one platform and run it on another

To me this says it all – platform independent applications. What is one thing Windows does well? The programs generally run only on Windows. Developers usually have to port applications to run on other operating systems like Mac or Linux. But an application built on Java can be run on any platform regardless of the architecture.

Create programs to run within a web browser

This is an area Google lacks in somewhat. Sure they own search and have some great web based applications such as Gmail, but there are so many potential other web based applications out there. From web based collaboration software to web based application suites (such as office applications). The possibilities are endless.

Develop server side applications

Again, since Java is platform independent, different types of server applications can be built for websites regardless of their operating system. An E-commerce system could be developed which would easily plug into a website whether it was ASP or PHP based. This would be a huge competitive advantage for Google.

Write applications for…consumer devices

Portable web is the future. There is no doubt about it. Rather than building mutiple platform dependent applications, one could again develop a java based platform independent application. Since it’s independent it can not only run on your desktop or within your web browser but also your cell phone, blackberry or PDA.

So, now that we know what Java can do, lets take a look at what Google can do with Java:

Compete on the Desktop

Virtually any application could be ported from it’s current Windows based version to a platform independent Java version. Even current Google applications like Picasa and Google Earth could now be available to non-Windows users.

Obviously, there is a potential to compete with current Microsoft products as well. The first that comes to mind is Microsoft Office. One would expect this to be one of the first areas Google moves into.

Imagine the potential though. I think of how good that would be just for me personally. My computer runs Fedora (a version of Redhat Linux) yet for other reasons (games) my son’s computer runs Windows XP.

When he needs help with homework it can be trying because he uses Microsoft software and I use open source. If we could collaborate on something which doesn’t care what OS it runs on, it would make our lives so much easier.

And that leads to my next point – collaboration.

Compete with future Microsoft products

One thing Microsoft has been getting better at, but is still lagging in, is online collaboration. Sure they have Exchange Server and Sharepoint, but those systems are somewhat cumbersome and don’t always play together nicely.

But imagine a system which is (again) platform independent and web based and allows collaboration among multiple users from different areas using a shared application base. The system could incorporate version control for shared documents, as well as calendaring, email and other communications.

This system could be hosted by Google (of course) but be open to who you want. In other words, you could openly collaborate with clients, or co workers regardless of what system you are using – you could connect and read email with your PDA, schedule appointments with your laptop and even have a Google Talk VOIP conversation with your cell phone. The possibilities are endless.

Take Over the Desktop

To go even a step further, what if Google built a small lightweight version of Linux that hosts links to web based versions of the Java applications. You could then have this light Google Linux stored on a USB device.

That way, no matter what computer you use, you could reboot it into the USB version of Google’s Desktop and have all your customizations and settings just like you would at home or the office.

You could borrow your neighbors laptop or even go to the local Internet cafe and reboot into “Glinux” to read email, respond to appointments and even have a virtual conference via Google IM.

Again, depending on how aggressive Google wants to be (and I bet you they are very aggressive) Google could become a viable alternative to Microsoft. And not just Microsoft applications but Microsoft as a whole.

Google could take over the desktop (or at least temporarily supplant it) as well as any MS based application.

This is the true power of the deal today. While it make take months or years to see the first “real” Google/Sun java application, I do expect to see them taking aim at Microsoft and what it has accomplished.

Because this is still all in line with Google’s mission of making the worlds information universally accessible.

All I can say is I hope Bill Gates has a big enough war chest because he’s going to need it.

About the author:

About the author:
Rob Sullivan – SEO Specialist and Internet Marketing Consultant. Any reproduction of this article needs to have an html link pointing to

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