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Sun is to lead a $500 million marketing campaign aimed at making Java, its programming technology, one of the world's best-known technology brands.

At the annual JavaOne conference in San Francisco this week, the company is expected to announce the "Java Powered" campaign, which will see Sun and its industry partners investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the Java name.

Java was first unveiled by Sun in the mid-1990s as a technology to let developers write software programs that could run on virtually any computer, regardless of operating system. Java is on track to attract about three million developers by 2004, but so far Sun has failed to cash in on the success of the movement it championed.

Similar to the successful "Intel Inside" program which helped everyone -- from techies to consumers -- realise that Intel semiconductors were the brains inside their PCs, the "Java Powered" campaign will see Sun and its partners branding PCs, phones, and a host of other devices with a new Java logo.

Sun Microsystems Executive Vice President for Software Jonathan Schwartz told reporters over the weekend that Sun will commit half its entire advertising spend to the campaign, and along with partner spending the overall campaign value is expected to top $500 million. More details of the campaign are expected on Monday and during Schwartz's own keynote address to the conference on Tuesday.

Sun reportedly also has plans to relax licensing terms on Java, letting developers modify its core technology more extensively than before.

Java is already making headway in the mobile phone space, where Java games are shipped as standard on many new phone models, and Sun says that more than 200 million handsets will be shipped with Java this year.

Sun has admitted that the Java Powered campaign is aimed squarely at bringing Sun into more direct competition with Microsoft. Last week Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer told his staff that Microsoft is set to become one of the biggest advertisers in its industry as it seeks to lure developers to write for its platform instead of competitors like Linux. The two major advertising campaigns could signal a welcome uplift for the advertising and media industries, which suffered sharp fall-offs in spending from tech firms during 2002.

Although Sun is listed on the Nasdaq exchange as a maker of computer hardware, it is betting more and more of its future on its software business, which is headed by Schwartz and employs around 5,000 people.

© ENN

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