The Google-Sun collaboration has kept us busy the last two days--trying to figure out what was in the works and now deciphering the actual announcement. There was rampant speculation that Google would launch an MS Office killer based on OpenOffice bits, but that wasn't even close. Google will somehow help promote and distribute OpenOffice. No details were offered about how and when.
From left: Sun President/COO Jonathan Schwartz, Sun CEO Scott McNealy, Google CEO Eric Schmidt Photo credit: Stephen Shankland
I had a dose of deja vu. When Sun and Microsoft settled scores, specifics were scare and great expectations were touted. More than a year later, the two companies have done some interoperability work but it's still an tentative relationship and work in progress. Google and Sun have much more in common, including Microsoft as a competitor, but the revelations about the collaboration were also short on specifics in some areas.
As Nick Carr has a zinger in his blog, "I'm at this very moment looking at two headlines in an AP news feed and trying to figure out which one is more banal: 'Sun, Google in Software Distribution Pact' or 'Pamela Anderson Gets Restraining Order'." He also points to Dana Gardner's analysis on Between the Lines, "Google takes a leisurely stroll through Sun's pantry of goods."
The collaboration has the potential to become more substantial, but for now it's mostly tactical horse trading between the two companies. Sun sells more product to Google, a marquee customer. Google gets major Toolbar distribution and search integration with OpenOffice, while Sun will get much needed broader distribution, or at least exposure, for Java and OpenOffice via the hottest brand in the universe. They will work jointly on open source and open standard projects, such as OpenSolaris and Java.
It's not welcome news for the Microsoft camp, but Google and Sun need to give more specifics about how they are going to change the world with open standard network service platforms, as Jonathan Schwartz alluded to in a recent blog posting, and disrupt Microsoft's hold on the distribution channel.
Editor's note: See ZDNet's special report for additional news and views on the Sun-Google partnerhsip.