With much fanfare Sun announced its new JavaFX platform yesterday, but curiously in a video introducing the platform, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, made the browser the enemy of content owners, and set up JavaFX as the platform to give developers and content owners direct access to users. I'm not sure I agree with his basic premise.
What's So Bad About a Browser?
In his presentation, Schwartz said that the browser developers themselves have become competitors with the web developers and content owners, competing for revenue and attention. "It's been our experience in talking to content owners and network service providers" Schwartz said, "that they've begun to see browsers as a competitive environment. The dominant platforms, which represent the bulk of distribution into the marketplace are owned by competitive technology companies."
He suggests that these companies, and he displays a graphic showing (oddly) Firefox in the same boat with Google and Microsoft, want to own the search experience, the traffic and the monetization vehicles. Schwartz goes on to say that this puts content owners in second place behind these efforts, but does it?
To bypass what he purports to be a hostile relationship with the browser, he suggests that JavaFX offers a new way, a way to simply drag and drop the content to the desktop, where viewers can watch rich content outside the browser and forge a direct relationship with the viewer.
Browser As the Enemy
I'm not convinced that the browsers, especially as he presented them, are competing with the content owners in the way he suggests. What's more, if your content is sitting on the desktop, it's only accessible when you are on that computer. Sun might have provided a way to develop on a familiar platform, and bypass the browser, but is bypassing the browsers in the way Schwartz defined it a good thing?
I'm also skeptical about the browsers he cast as the enemy of content owners, especially open source Firefox, which is hardly in the same league in terms of monetization as Google and Internet Explorer. For that matter, Google just released a Beta version of Chrome, its first generation browser. Its not exactly a household name in the browser game. What Schwartz probably meant was Google's obvious search dominance and its success with Google ads, but so far savvy content owners have made lots of money partnering with Google.
Content is King
In the end, I think Schwartz is casting his new platform in the wrong light. Content owners want to display the content in a way that provides the easiest way for the largest number of people to access the content. If Sun intends to compete with Adobe AIR as a Rich Internet Application environment, it needs to set this up less as a content display technology and more as a way to create interesting applications in a new environment much like my favorite AIR application, TweetDeck.
But casting the browser as the enemy and creating an Us vs. Them argument closes off opportunities for JavaFX, and it's clear at this juncture, Sun needs to open to as many opportunities as possible to simply survive moving forward. Setting content owners against the browser developers isn't going to get it done, and frankly, makes no sense to me.