Sun rise or Sun set?

Strange days indeed when reporters can look at the same exact numbers and come out with the opposite headline. Open source puts a shine on Sun's quarter, writes Big Money Matt Asay over at C!Net. Sun Microsystems skids to $209 million quarterly loss, writes the AP.

Strange days indeed when two reporters can look at the same exact numbers and come out with the opposite headline.

Open source puts a shine on Sun's quarter, writes Big Money Matt Asay over at C!Net.

Sun Microsystems skids to $209 million quarterly loss, writes the AP.

Can we look a little deeper? Sun Microsystems shares climb, says Forbes. Wait, that's an AP story. Sun's loss reflects revamping costs, says The New York Times. Wait, that's AP too.

That's why I like C|Net news stories, where the lede gives you both sides. Take it away, Dawn Kamamoto:

Sun announced on Tuesday fiscal second-quarter revenue fell nearly 11 percent, but the hardware maker's revenue and earnings came in stronger than Wall Street's expectations

And we put that in boldface, so the AP copy desk can read it without their spectacles.

The fact is that Sun did lose money in the fourth quarter, but not as much as expected, and sales actually rose while costs were being cut -- creating big charges to earnings. Got that?

Matt notes that sales for mySQL and open source storage both rose -- to $81 million in the first instance, $100 million in the second. But when total revenues are $3.22 billion that's not really material.

The fact is that Sun is a hardware company, not a software company. Its money comes from servers. Open source let it match software losses to income, which cut total losses, but it's still the ponytail on this old horse.

That's why the market capitalization of Red Hat is at all comparable to that of Sun -- and right now it's $500 million behind. The two companies are, in fact, completely different. One sells boxes, the other monetizes downloads.

In Wall Street terms the whole "Jonathan Schwartz era Sun open source" was a PR stunt. The real game here is Sun's hardware problem. And putting an open source gloss on them repeal Moore's Second Law.

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