Schwartz: Sun to break out software revenue

Sun Microsystems plans to begin breaking out its software business separately on its financial statements.

Sun Microsystems plans to begin breaking out the financial results of its software business separately on its financial statements, the company's No. 2 executive said at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas Thursday.

In an interview at the conference here, Sun President and Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Schwartz told IDG News Service that the company will soon begin reporting the revenue from its software business. Currently, the company reports only systems, storage and services revenue. He did not provide a time frame for when the change will be made.

The move may provide insight into how much revenue Sun derives from its Java technology licensing business, something the company has never fully disclosed since it introduced the technology in 1996. Sun executives long have been lambasted for not revealing how much money the company actually makes from Java licensing, which Schwartz said is a profitable business at the company.

However, because the company sees Java's true value not in licensing but as a driver for its infrastructure business, Sun has never felt the need to report how much money it derives from Java licensing, he said.

"Java is the standard that allows us to talk to every cell phone, every set-top box, every computer in the world," Schwartz said. "Let me assure you that the revenue we get from the license is a tiny value of the revenue we get from the infrastructure behind the networks of those devices."

Sun earns royalty revenue from ever consumer device embedded with Java Micro Edition, the version of the Java technology for mobile phones and other handheld devices, Schwartz said. The company soon will begin earning royalties from companies that sell Blu-ray players, because a Java-based technology, BD-Java, is the interactive development platform for the Blu-ray high-definition video format.