What does Sun Microsystems Mean?
November 10 2008 by Fayazuddin A Shirazi
Consistently marred by poor marketing strategies, marketing experts believe, Sun Microsystems’ identity has come in for severe beating.
“I must admit that I’ve never been a fan of Sun’s marketing. I never liked the “we’re the dot in dot com” campaign. I never liked the way they marketed Java,” says Mark Logic CEO Dave Kellog in his blog post commenting on the recent $1.68 billion loss reported by Sun Microsystems.
“Heinz means ketchup. KFC means chicken. Speedo means swimsuits. Bobby Flay means great restaurants (and fun cooking TV). Facebook means friends. Cabela’s means outdoor gear. Forget political views, but I will say — at a branding level — Obama means change every bit as much as Volvo means safe or Patek Philippe means heirloom.
But what does Sun mean? I don’t know and that in my humble opinion is where the problems begin,” Kellog points out.
Writing in his latest blog post, titled “Sun: The Bleeding Continues” Dave Kellog, CEO of Mark Logic, the San Carlos, CA based company known for developing and marketing XML servers, says that Sun’s strategy over the years has been obsolete and consistently inefficient, which has created a peculiar identity crisis for the company.
“I’ve never liked their marketing (I loathed the “dot in dot-com” thing). Like most of us, I initially enjoyed all the McNealy barbs thrown at Microsoft. But over time, the cleverness ran dry, leaving only bitterness in its wake,” notes Kellog in his latest blog commentary.
Marketing experts are of the opinion that Sun Microsystem’s desperate resolve to change its ticker symbol to JAVA, its romance with Solaris, the acquisition of OpenOffice have all contributed to its identity crisis.
Kellog says he never understood Sun’s strategy for a long time. “I understood Sun at the beginning: high-performance workstations. I understood Sun when they evolved to high-performance servers. But I don’t know what Sun stands for anymore,” says Kellog.
Kellog believes with racks of ever-faster commodity servers available in the market, demand for Sun’s high performance systems has considerably come down and Sun has done nothing about it, he says. “With the advent of new software and algorithms that increasingly support parallelism across large numbers of commodity servers such as, MapReduce, and MarkLogic, demand for Sun’s high-end server is further eroded,” explains Kellog.
Currently, Sun Microsystems Kellog says, is like lost on Porter’s generic strategies: succeeding neither in differentiation nor in cost leadership, they are beaten by white-box makers, such as Dell and presumably HP.
Pointing out further flaws in Sun’s marketing strategy; Kellog believes no one knows how to make money out of open source software. “Sun Microsystem’s lifeboat — if it’s open source software — has a hole in it. Sauf (except) RedHat, no one has really figured out how to make money in open source software. Despite being free, I’ve met only one person in my life who used OpenOffice — and guess where she worked? Sun,”(sic) he quips.
What is wrong with Sun? This reminds me of an interesting satirical presentation made by Computer World, a few years ago, which explicitly revealed how Sun Microsystems is undergoing an identity trauma. Computer World’s sarcastic presentation noted: “Sun Microsystems enters the office of noted therapist Dr. Sickmund Fraud and lies down on the couch. Doc, I think I’m having an identity crisis, Sun confides.”