Toni Epple works as a consultant for Eppleton ( in Munich, Germany. In his spare time he's an active member of the Open Source community as a community leader for JavaTools community (, moderator of the XING NetBeans User Group (, founder of the NetBeans User Group Munich (, member of the NetBeans Dream Team ( and blogger ( Toni is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 51 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Growing Revenue for Desktop Java

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I was reading Jonathan Schwartz’s latest blog entry about JavaFX reaching 100 000 000 downloads. That’s really impressive, but what I liked even more about the article are some remarks about client side Java:

“First, freely distributed, open source software will continue to create enormous revenue opportunities for those that understand the underlying business model - as an example, the Java business for Sun, last quarter, delivered more than $67m in billings, up nearly 50% year over year. On an annualized basis, that means the Java client business (as distinct from the Java server business) is now a multi-hundred million dollar business, opening doors for Sun, and the Java community, across the planet. All built on freely available runtimes and source code. Free as in beer, free as in speech, and free as in market. ” (Jonathan Schwartz’s Blog)

That’s really fantastic news and it really matches my impressions about the adoption of Java on the desktop here in my small world. The number of companies building their desktop applications with Java is really growing here in Germany. Recently I’ve been talking to a publisher about his experience, and he said they see a growing demand especially for books about RCP Platforms. Sold books on a subject are a good indicator for where the market is going…  and our local JUG has become some kind of a job market over the last weeks: "all the poor former Sun and IBM employees", you might think! But the opposite is true: companies are sending their job offerings, looking for Java developers by the dozen. It’s really amazing to see all this happening despite the financial crisis… Looks to me like Java (on desktop & Server) is stronger than ever.


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Mike P(Okidoky) replied on Fri, 2009/02/20 - 11:52pm

Indeed. What took people so long. Java rocks, Java2D rocks, and yet year after year after year, people just didn't make the connection. The Batik SVG renderer looked promising for a bit, but it's more of an output format, something you print to, kind of.

Personally, I think JavaFX is not quite *IT* though.

Jeroen Wenting replied on Mon, 2009/02/23 - 2:00am

yeah right, 100.000.000 downloads. With maybe 10.000.000 Java programmers (most of whom are not interested in JavaFX) and at most a similar number of others interested in trying the demos, my guess is that that number is at least 10 times higher than the actual number of downloads and that the number of people using it for more than playing with the demos is at most 10% of that.

We've all seen inflated download figures used to drive shareprices or get more downloads ("it is that popular? Wow, I must try it too"), but this is ridiculous.

As to out of work programmers, you ain't seen nothing yet (to quote Ronald Reagan). While for some (the highly experienced ones mainly, and those with publications to their name), the job offers will continue to pour in, expect for many the reality to be worse than that of the .com crunch in '01/'02, forcing a LOT of them to leave the profession or at least spend quite a while on the dole, looking for work that's simply not there. The real problems in the jobmarket are only just beginning after all. Companies could survive last year on existing projects and budgets, it's 2009 and 2010 that will see a major drop in contracts and new projects, a major RIFfing in existing groups. Of course that leads to headhunters pulling hard on the top-5% of people, as they're going to be needed to cover the arses of project managers forced to do the same work with 20-30% less manpower (and thus need higher quality people). Don't however expect salaries and benefits to go up more than marginably, the money isn't there, you should be happy to have a job at all (if not now, then by the end of the year that will be the reality for most of us).

Karl Pagan replied on Mon, 2009/02/23 - 6:14pm

The problem with the Java desktop market is that it is dependent on either ubiquity of the GUI platform or the consistency of business implementation.

Flash has dominated the web. Until we see JavaFX ads accepted by webmasters to the same level as Flash ads then I will have serious doubt about the ability of Java to become a ubiquitous development platform. The popularity of a platform is vitally important since it is a business risk to continue to develop a system if the cost of hiring developers to maintain it is expected to increase. For Java to begin to snowball it must be popular with users as well as developers.

For consistency Silverlight / WPF has the potential to steamroll its way into the business world and overtake Flash/Java for a ubiquitous business front-end. Historic errors in Java support on MacOS may have irreversibly damaged its market share (and any Vista / Windows 7 errors will further damage it). If JavaFX / SoyLatte sufficiently fills in the gaps before 32-bit macs are obsolete and Java 7 hits the ground with few significant Vista/W7 issues then there is a chance for Java to improve.

Downloads are great... but until JavaFX technology starts showing up in my browser on a daily basis I will restrain my optimism.

George Jiang replied on Mon, 2009/02/23 - 9:47pm

Agree. Sun has never had a big enough market share in Desktop UI, not likely with JavaFX either.

Toni Epple replied on Tue, 2009/02/24 - 4:55am

@karlthepagan: This post is not about JavaFX, but about the Java Client business in general that is creating revenue for Sun and others. This revenue is not yet generated by JavaFX but mainly by Swing.

@george.jiang: Regarding market share on the Desktop: Swing is the most popular GUI Toolkit (and growing).

Regarding JavaFX: The best strategy for Sun in my eyes would be to build on the many Swing developers out there instead of designers. JavaFX should be designed to be called from and integrated with Swing (right now there are only hacks allowing to do that), not only the other way round. This would give a boost to Swing and Desktop Java and they could get a lot of developers in their boat and allow for a slow transition to JavaFX as the main Toolkit. Designers are free to join in at any point, and they will when there are many applications built with JavaFX.    

Toni Epple replied on Tue, 2009/02/24 - 9:14am in response to: Jeroen Wenting

Jeroen, I agree that the job market will probably plunge in 2009/2010 in many areas, but what I see in IT, and especially in Java right now is the opposite. Maybe using less manpower to achieve the same result is the key to this. Many companies are relying more and more on Java on the desktop, because they see the stability, performance, portability and backwards compatibility of the Java Platform as a great benefit that allows for lower maintenance and development costs. Add free tools like Eclipse & NetBeans, great component libraries, the Open Source community. And that's why Sun's revenue in the client market has been growing despite the financial crisis and despite being hit hard by it in other areas...

Jeroen Wenting replied on Wed, 2009/02/25 - 3:51am

I don't see a growing market for programmers, I see stagnation.
Working for a company developing software on a contract basis (and supporting environments) we're seeing a sharp drop in new tenders combined with increasing difficulty in getting existing contracts extended (and those that do get extended often bring in less money as hourly rates have to be reduced and manpower commitments reduced while of course delivering the same service).
Many customers are consolidating, deciding to retain their existing hardware and software for a while longer rather than invest in replacement systems. The old "if it ain't broke, don't replace it" is creeping into the market for computer systems, replacing the old cycle of automatically replacing everything every 2-3 years.
Open source is totally irrelevant in this. While we do get questions from customers about it (mainly for including JBoss instead of WebLogic or OC4J as an application server), so far those tenders have never yielded a single sale. The cost difference isn't so much that it's going to matter much. When a project has a total pricetag of hundreds of thousands if not millions of Euros, saving a few thousand by picking JBoss instead of WebLogic isn't going to make a splash (especially if the customer nor us has a trained support system in place for JBoss, thus making for expensive training of sysadmins, at least part of which will create pressure on the project budget and timing).
Eclipse and Netbeans aren't going to make a difference either. The customer never sees the IDE the programmer uses, so it doesn't matter to him what's being used (and if he does want to dictate it, do you really want to deal with him? He's likely to be going to try and micromanage everything, delaying the project and leading to cost overruns).
We're still hiring, but slowly and carefully and mostly to compensate for people leaving. And we're lucky in that, many companies around us are cutting back, often seriously, and especially in temp workers, contractors, and other non-permanent staff.

Toni Epple replied on Wed, 2009/02/25 - 3:39pm

Hi Jeroen, I don't agree with you. There will probably be a decline in Jobs, but in the last months the demand for Java developers has been growing: 


George Jiang replied on Wed, 2009/02/25 - 5:33pm in response to: Toni Epple

Regarding market share on the Desktop: Swing is the most popular GUI Toolkit (and growing).

You need to qualify "the most popular" with "Java" as Swing is the most popular Java GUI Toolkit. My original statement stands.

Toni Epple replied on Thu, 2009/02/26 - 2:27am

Jeroen, did you follow the link behind my "the most popular GUI Toolkit"?

Here it is again:

 "Java Swing with 47% use, has surpassed WinForms as the dominant GUI development toolkit, an increase of 27% since fall 2004." 

George Jiang replied on Sat, 2009/02/28 - 4:36am in response to: Toni Epple

Wow. Maybe it takes 50 developers to do with Swing what you can do with 1 winforms developer? :-)

That's not what I saw on the job ads using Winform or Swing as keywords. And Swing was invented in the days of VB5 and was directly competing against VB6.

It definitely suprises me Swing had a bigger market share than WinForm in 2005, two years after the inception of Winform 1.1/.NET 1.1.

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