Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Roger Strukhoff, Elizabeth White, Scott Allen

Related Topics: Java IoT

Java IoT: Article

Steve Jobs Dismisses Java As "Heavyweight" in an Age of Lightweight Computing

Is Java a "Ball and Chain"?

These are curious times just now for Java. In one and the same month, Steve Jobs stands up, and declares – referring to language support on the new Apple iPhone – “Java’s not worth building in. Nobody uses Java anymore. It’s this big heavyweight ball and chain.” And in the same month a company like Backbase, whose AJAX JSF Edition is aimed at “Java developers who want to leverage the JSF standard by creating a next generation rich component-based AJAX presentation tier,” wins a 'Technology of the Year Award 2007' in the category 'AJAX Toolkits.'

So, is Java toast, history, finished, a sucked orange…or does it have plenty of “legs” yet, and Jobs's remark was just a temporary techno-backlash such as all programming languages must resist from time to time?

Bruce Eckel, who has since 1986 has published six books and over 150 computer articles, views this backlash as inevitable, foreseeable almost:

“This backlash has only been necessary because of Sun’s death grip on the idea of ubiquitous, omniscient Java. It was admirable once, but a language only evolves if its designers and advocates can acknowledge problems. Pretending that a language is successful in places where it’s not is just denial.”

But the Jobs declaration strikes as some as being a little incongruous.

"Am I the only one that finds this interesting since the format Apple is supporting for HD content is BluRay, which uses Java for all the interactive menus or BD-J discs," notes Danny Mavromatis. In other words, Jobs "is supporting a next-gen format which supports a technology that he claims nobody uses anymore."

Jobs's remark was made in an interview with New York Times technology correspondent John Markoff, but there must be more than a suspicion that it was calculated to help generate exactly the kind of massive publicity that will be necessary if Apple is to come anywhere near selling the 10 million iPhones that Jobs was predicting for 2008.

Richard Sprague offers a cautionary tale:

"I remember the lessons I learned working with the Newton team many years ago.  I was in Apple's marketing department at the time and we did this big fancy user study which basically proved that nobody would buy the thing at the price and functionality we were building.  So what did we do?  We shoved it into the market anyway because it was "cool".  Cool is great, but you still need to make phone calls."
Back to Eckel, though. Here is his take on a major flaw in Java versus AJAX:
"So Java has been around for 10 years and applets are not the primary way that we interact with the web. I think the main reason for this is the installation problem, another area of Java that wasn’t well thought-out. In fact, why do we like AJAX?

It’s clearly not because JavaScript is so easy to work with — JavaScript cross-platform problems are the reason people have avoided it in the past. AJAX is popular because we know that the necessary software for the client side is already installed.

Someone had to figure out how to deal with the cross-platform issues for JavaScript first, but if JRE installation was trivial, everyone might have just created Java applets. But they didn’t, applets are not ubiquitous, and everyone got excited about AJAX instead. So AJAX became the favored technology for RIAs."

According to Eckel, the obvious contender, instead of Java, for building RIAs is Flash, and Flex in particular.

"It’s clear that we can’t wait for Sun to fix all of Java’s problems," he writes. "Open-sourcing Java might, eventually, have a huge impact on repairing Java’s deficiencies. For example, work on the JMF might get resurrected. Maybe installation issues will even be fixed someday. The possibilities might be limitless, but if you need to solve problems now, then the solution is to hybridize parts of the language."

By way of explaining this concept of "Hybridizing Java," Eckels explains that in fact we do this already:

"You don’t insist on using a Java database for an application; you use a specialized system like MySQL or Oracle. Sun is directly supporting the development of JRuby for hybrid Java/JRuby programming. We are seeing other special-purpose languages arise to solve specialized problems. Why insist on using a Java library for UI if a specialized system solves the problem better?"
Let's give the last word to Steve Benfield, veteran technologist, who summarizes what he calls his "technology lineage" as PowerBuilder -> Silverstream -> J2EE -> AJAX -> Flex.

"If you are a Java technologist who thinks anything Flash isn't enterprise ready," Benfield states, "then you need to reshift your thinking." He adds:
"We started using Flex 3 months ago and are rocking and rolling – life is good. We can quickly build the GUI we want, integration to our J2EE/Spring/hibernate back end is seamless, and we anxiously await Apollo so we have a full desktop app."
Like I said, these are curious – and challenging – times just now for Java.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

Comments (11) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
ferhad 02/15/07 08:04:20 AM EST

I think apple's programmers don't know to program their own phone so can't build in Java and Steve Jobs says "Java's not worth building in.":)

ferhad 02/13/07 11:33:21 AM EST

I can't think a mobile phone without Java support.In that way user won't be able to run JME applications on his device and will have to buy and use apple based applications.A good way to earn money for Apple.

raju 02/07/07 12:45:29 PM EST

Interesting! How about using OpenLaszlo and LZX for development. You'll get all the benefits: Flash 6,7, and 8 (Flex copied the concept of OpenLaszlo), DHTML/AJAX from March on AND a Java runtime within the next year.

There's a proof of concept showing that Laszlo AJAX apps will run on the CDC/PBP profile for the Java Micro Edition. The source code will be available for download, soon. Want to develop for the web, Java enabled devices, Flash 6,7 and 8 . Maybe Flash Lite support and Webkit in the future? Well, there's nothing out there right now with the potential of the OpenLaszlo technology. Become involved with the OpenLaszlo project and we'll see some magic happening.

Richard Chuo 02/05/07 01:03:55 PM EST

I think Steve Jobs was referring to Java Micro Edition (JME). Is there any killer app on any latest MIDP 2.0 capable mobile phone?

JME stack does not fit into carrier companies' business model either. Wouldn't it be great if a mobile phone user is always on line, thus carrier companies can charge users for data transit? In this case, Ajax is a much better choice for this business aim.

Besides, Apple already ported its Objective-C based frameworks (e.g. Core Animation) to iPhone. Why should Apple bother to put a JME stack on top of the micro OS X?

I was a professional Java developer. I think Java is pretty strong on the server side. However, Steve Jobs was talking about Java on Apple's mobile phone here. He was speaking of business, not exactly the technology.

By the way, I do be happy about that Sun gives a lot of supports to JRuby. ;-)

Michael Feldstein 02/03/07 12:22:31 PM EST

There's nothing incogruous about this at all. Jobs was talking specifically about running Java on the client side and, I believe, thinking about it in a browser. If you look at the features and non-features of the iPhone, it assumes ubiquitous connections and browser-based experiences. For example, it doesn't run Office apps, but it probably will let you run web-based office apps (like Google spreadsheets) in the browser. Backbase is consistent with Jobs' pronouncement because it doesn't run Java in the web client; it runs AJAX.

The interviewees in this article who talk about the shortcomings of applets are on-target, and I don't think Jobs' comments about Java being too heavyweight should be interpreted overly broadly. For goodness' sake, his OS is programmed mostly in Objective C! Furthermore, there's plenty of support specifically for Java within OS X and some of the apps that are bundled with it. One has to assume that context matters here and that Jobs' statement should be interpreted within that context.

Georgi 02/02/07 07:17:05 PM EST

Well, Job has his opinion. And he is right: Java is getting more and more bloated with frameworks, APIs etc. blah blah. I, for myself, am not that sure if this is a bless or a curse.

On the other hand, I'm not sure if Jobs is talking about the things the article (mostly) is talking about: UI. Applets? They are user interface. That war was lost long ago for Sun (Java), imho. And they know it.

Yet another hand (well, I got plenty of them here : ) I'm reading a commentary of Steve Benfield (right here in this article) who states: " ... We can quickly build the GUI we want, integration to our J2EE/Spring/hibernate back end is seamless, and we anxiously await Apollo so we have a full desktop app.". So, reading between "the wide spread" lines, he assumes that Java is running on the server side? Good. That's where Java is supposed to be...

Just my 2 cents, guys, just my 2 cents...

Ivan 02/02/07 02:50:20 PM EST

Jobs is not an engineer, he's an evangelist. He's just trying to provide justifcation for not going with a Java implementation on the iPhone. The reality is that he can't mask what it is- just another poor decision in the broken iPhone software model. Not recognizing one his important components is dependent on Java is comedic.

Bruce Eckel is just out of touch with the day to day. There's a reason Java software products are moving forward at great velocity.

There are challenges indeed for Java the language maybe as it struggles to evolve while maintaining backward compatability and design cohesion, but not for Java the larger platform. It couldn't be in better health.

Rafe Colburn 02/02/07 07:52:28 AM EST

Nick Carr does a good job of explaining how Steve Jobs' inner control freak is what's best and worst about Apple. Here's the link: http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2007/01/steves_devices.php

Teera Kanokkanjanarat 02/02/07 07:37:57 AM EST

Regarding Mr.Jobs' comment, I think he's off on this one (probably it's his RDF in the work as usual). Don't get me wrong, Steve Jobs has always been my iconic figure and I admire him greatly. Sure, his IPhone doesn't need Java if he says so (he's running Apple!), but he probably forgot that his Apple has chosen Blu-ray as its next gen DVD and Blu-ray is running Java...

Herb Bowie 02/01/07 07:56:23 PM EST

Well, Jobs' comment was probably intentionally overstated, but such overstatement is indicative of Apple's obvious decision that Java is not terribly relevant as part of its overall strategy.

However, if you look at the part of the market that Apple is primarily focused on -- client apps with cool GUIs for consumption by the general public -- this is an area where Java has little or no traction anyway.

So while Java still has a lot of usefulness on the server side, and on the client side for corporate business systems, those aren't areas of much interest to Jobs or Apple.

Ankit C 02/01/07 05:41:34 PM EST

Jobs univers might be iphone but for rest of the world JAVA is still the best. There are enterprise systems which need JAVA and will need JAVA. JAVA probably is not the best language to develop the applications for small devices but it certainly is the best for enterprise systems.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
Businesses are struggling to manage the information flow and interactions between all of these new devices and things jumping on their network, and the apps and IT systems they control. The data businesses gather is only helpful if they can do something with it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Witeck, Principal Technology Strategist at Citrix, will discuss how different the impact of IoT will be for large businesses, expanding how IoT will allow large organizations to make their legacy ap...
Adobe is changing the world though digital experiences. Adobe helps customers develop and deliver high-impact experiences that differentiate brands, build loyalty, and drive revenue across every screen, including smartphones, computers, tablets and TVs. Adobe content solutions are used daily by millions of companies worldwide-from publishers and broadcasters, to enterprises, marketing agencies and household-name brands. Building on its established design leadership, Adobe enables customers not o...
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
Major trends and emerging technologies – from virtual reality and IoT, to Big Data and algorithms – are helping organizations innovate in the digital era. However, to create real business value, IT must think beyond the ‘what’ of digital transformation to the ‘how’ to harness emerging trends, innovation and disruption. Architecture is the key that underpins and ties all these efforts together. In the digital age, it’s important to invest in architecture, extend the enterprise footprint to the cl...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Numerex Corp, a leading provider of managed enterprise solutions enabling the Internet of Things (IoT), will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Numerex Corp. (NASDAQ:NMRX) is a leading provider of managed enterprise solutions enabling the Internet of Things (IoT). The Company's solutions produce new revenue streams or create operating...
24Notion is full-service global creative digital marketing, technology and lifestyle agency that combines strategic ideas with customized tactical execution. With a broad understand of the art of traditional marketing, new media, communications and social influence, 24Notion uniquely understands how to connect your brand strategy with the right consumer. 24Notion ranked #12 on Corporate Social Responsibility - Book of List.
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
As ridesharing competitors and enhanced services increase, notable changes are occurring in the transportation model. Despite the cost-effective means and flexibility of ridesharing, both drivers and users will need to be aware of the connected environment and how it will impact the ridesharing experience. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Timothy Evavold, Executive Director Automotive at Covisint, will discuss key challenges and solutions to powering a ride sharing and/or multimodal model in the a...
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lea...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Roundee / LinearHub will exhibit at the WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LinearHub provides Roundee Service, a smart platform for enterprise video conferencing with enhanced features such as automatic recording and transcription service. Slack users can integrate Roundee to their team via Slack’s App Directory, and '/roundee' command lets your video conference ...
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
What are the new priorities for the connected business? First: businesses need to think differently about the types of connections they will need to make – these span well beyond the traditional app to app into more modern forms of integration including SaaS integrations, mobile integrations, APIs, device integration and Big Data integration. It’s important these are unified together vs. doing them all piecemeal. Second, these types of connections need to be simple to design, adapt and configure...
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, will compare the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, e...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management solutions, helping companies worldwide activate their data to drive more value and business insight and to transform moder...
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...