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Sun's McNealy shoots for dot-stars

Sun's McNealy shoots for dot-stars

If you thought Scott McNealy will follow the trend and send Sun Microsystems scurrying after the golden dream of services revenues, think again. He just wants to keep selling "big friggin' Web-tone switches".

Yes, Sun's charismatic chairman and CEO is back in town for the Olympics and armed with more witty one-liners.

McNealy used his address at the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday to detail his passion for creating dot-com businesses, tell Australia where it's going wrong ("because we asked") and announce new venture capital investments in the region.

But when asked about Sun's future split between software, hardware and services revenues, it was a case of back to basics. Apparently only interested in hardware and platform sales, McNealy said he wishes to avoid direct competition with the services arms of telcos and services providers.

Hardware and software sales, particularly Java, remain the main game and the "network (is still) the computer".

And as for news of HP's attempt to buy Pricewaterhouse Coopers' consulting business, McNealy indicated he believes it's a trend that's not worth following. "A tough job will be to follow (IBM CEO) Lou Gerstner," he said.

Large corporates and government are not interested in buying operating systems or specific codes - they want a total system, McNealy said. "Whoever wins (the deal), gets the whole room."

Meanwhile, "dot-coming" your business remains Sun's mantra with McNealy explaining yesterday, he still believes we just have to cope with the fact that we are all "hopelessly behind" in the development of Internet technologies.

But the positive step Sun is taking on the home front to address this is to develop "MySun" web portals for each of its communities, from resellers to suppliers and education institutions.

The portal concept followed his idea that the federal government should create "myaustralia.com.au", where every citizen could access their government records, and conduct activities online such as voting and renewing driver's licenses in a secure fashion.

McNealy also used the occasion to repeat a statement from some years ago to illustrate his belief in the value of information availability: "You have no privacy, get over it." He believes we should be able to choose who can see our private information, which in the case of an ambulance officer reading medical records online, could save lives.

"My thesis is the Internet is under-hyped," he explained. "I believe we are in the biggest equipment industry of all time."

Investments

McNealy also announced yesterday the company will spend $US50 million on investments through its newly formed Sun Asia-Pacific Venture Investment Program. A total of $250 million will be available through the program, courtesy of co-investments from local partners, to support new Internet, communications and e-commerce business in countries such as Australia, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

In addition, McNealy announced Sun has established four technology grants worth more than $1.6 million to support online learning in Australian schools. Each of Sun's "Sunburst Schools" will receive a Sun Ultrasparc Server and 100 SunRay devices, complete with training, support and maintenance for three years.

Sun Microsystems is set to bring home revenues of between $US20 and $22 billion this fiscal year, which McNealy claims represents around a 34 per cent rise in revenues.

Mark Jones travelled to Canberra as a guest of Sun Microsystems.


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