Acknowledging that scepticism about Sun Microsystems is "at an all-time high", the company's top executive brushed off threats to Sun's business posed by industry-standard hardware and software and told financial analysts that Sun would continue to thrive.
"I know what you guys are thinking: 'He can’t be looking forward to this meeting,'" Sun's chairman, president and chief executive officer, Scott McNealy, said at the start of Sun's financial analyst conference.
Some financial and industry analysts have questioned Sun's ability to recover from the economic downturn and remain a major player in the server business. In particular, they have criticised Sun for focusing too narrowly on its own UltraSPARC chips and Solaris operating system while competitors more enthusiastically embraced systems running Linux and Intel processors.
McNealy said that Sun was planning for the future and would thrive in the next 20 years. He said the company did not need to follow rivals such as Hewlett-Packard and IBM by embracing a business model that included focusing on services and Microsoft software.
"A lot of people are looking for us to go follow the herd, but we’ve had chances to fail in the past," he said.
Each time the company had pulled through, McNealy said. "All along the way, we have chosen some rather unique paths," he said.
McNealy toned down his trademark comic attack on rivals, addressing what many analysts see as very serious challenges for Sun. Though he used a more sedate tone than usual, his message that Sun would not change and liked being different came through loud and clear.