Feeds

Netscape deal founds Sun-backed ‘AOL Everywhere’ scheme

Check the small print of the AOL-Sun alliance, folks -- didn't AOL do well?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

As expected, AOL and Netscape signed on the dotted in a $4.2 billion deal today, but the real news was the simultaneous announcement of a three-year AOL-Sun strategic alliance covering e-commerce and the development of "next generation Internet devices".

Basically, AOL has hopped straight out of its Microsoft alliance and bought its way into the Sun-Netscape-Java camp. The e-commerce side is important, but the device side is particularly obviously up AOL's street, and supports something AOL cheekily calls its "AOL Everywhere" strategy. Evidently the boys from AOL think the carefully-crafted tripartite deal frees them entirely from Microsoft thralldom and have therefore dared to thumb their noses at Windows Everywhere. But does that mean CEO Steve Case will retract previous claims that AOL switched to IE for entirely commercial reasons?

The key plank of AOL Everywhere will be the use of Sun PersonalJava to offer AOL services "across a range of next generation Internet devices". These will include PDAs, cellphones and pagers. Together, Sun and AOL say they will develop the next generation of Netscape Navigator and Communicator clients, while AOL will support Sun Java in its e-commerce solutions.

Sun COO Ed Zander also suggests that Sun Jini technology, which envisages networks of smart, communicating devices, will play a part in the deal. On the e-commerce and Internet server fronts it seems AOL will be retaining ownership of Netscape's upscale products. The tweo companies will work together to provide complete turnkey solutions plus consulting services for e-commerce, and will co-market them, majoring on Sun's Solaris as a platform but also supporting others catered for by Netscape. Sun will sell Netscape middleware, and the two companies will use one anothers sales channels.

The financial side is also interesting. Sun becomes a lead systems and service provider to AOL, which guarantees to purchase systems and services to the value of $500 million at list price through to 2002. Sun will pay AOL $350 million in licensing, marketing and advertising fees over the next three years.

So, gentle reader, thinking caps on. How much is AOL paying Sun, and how much cash goes in the other direction? And, indeed, when? AOL has acquired (for a substantial sum, we concede) a leading browser together with a strong portfolio of Web server and middleware software, and as you can't actually own Apache, you could say AOL has acquired the leading ownable Web server. On top of that it has gained sufficient backing from Sun -- the sort of thing that would have helped an indepedent Netscape vastly -- to be able to expand market share for these products, and via the PersonalJava connection it stands a good chance of becoming a sort of official supplier in the consumer business for Java-based appliances.

But you could maybe figure the Sun-AOL deal as zero-sum, with if anything upfront cash travelling from Sun to AOL, rather than vice versa. If we're right, this gives you a pretty clear idea of how far Sun is prepared to go, and how much it's prepared to sacrifice, in order to blow Microsoft out of a key strategic partner and further its Java plans. But who's to say Sun is wrong? ®

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.