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Sun Puts Java Front And Center

It's not as if Sun Microsystems did something as dramatic as change its name, but the news that it will change its stock ticker symbol from SUNW to JAVA left some observers baffled, if not angry.

Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz made the announcement yesterday on his blog, noting the switch from SUNW to JAVA for its NASDAQ stock ticker is a reflection of Java's ubiquitous reach.

"Java touches nearly everyone -- everyone -- who touches the internet. Hundreds of millions of users see Java, and see its ubiquitous logo, every day. On PCs, mobile phones, game consoles - you name it .." he said in the blog post.

He also said, "SUNW represents the past, and it's not without a nostalgic nod that we've decided to look ahead."

The Sun name is an acronym for Stanford University Network (Sun's founders built the company's first workstation while at Stanford). Schwartz made it clear Sun has no plans to change the company name or in any way de-emphasize systems and hardware -- from which it derives most of its revenue.

But with its numerous software initiatives in the mix, he said a description of the company can no longer be limited to one category, such as workstations.

The feedback on Schwarz blog was, however, largely critical:

As a Sun investor I see this as a horrible idea. Not many people know that what the W in SUN stands for, and it really doesn't matter. What does matter is JAVA is more of a limiting factor than this illusion of infinite possibilities, Java is only a single platform and not representative of all of your wonderful products. SUNW allows for more possibles instead of being known as only the Java company. This is a sad day. :(

Another wrote:

This strikes me as silly. I had hoped it was some kind of joke, but I looked at the calendar, and it's not April 1st. The name of the company is Sun, and it makes a wide variety of products. Java is one of them, and it's an important one. But why pick just one and make it the ticker name?

But there were a few positive comments, such as this one:

Beautiful move - no other IT company have a so good name to apply. The Java brand have a great international appeal, and this is the stock name, not company name. This is all about technology as a service, and shows the company confidence on the Internet and the future of the internetworking. If 10+ years ahead some other technology have changed the face of the world a new brand will be welcome..

The last significant name change in tech came earlier this year when Apple went from Apple Computer to Apple, Inc. CEO Steve Jobs said the name change better reflected Apple's broad product portfolio, which now includes music players and mobile phones.