Sun Should Sell, Too - InformationWeek

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Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
4/10/2009
09:29 AM
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Sun Should Sell, Too

I wrote a few days ago that I think Twitter should accept pretty much any offer that comes from Google, presuming one comes at all. In other words, it should do what Sun failed to do.

I wrote a few days ago that I think Twitter should accept pretty much any offer that comes from Google, presuming one comes at all. In other words, it should do what Sun failed to do.IBM had been in talks to acquire Sun since the middle of March, and reportedly offered $7 billion for the company (more than twice the value of the stock at that time). The Sun board of directors rejected the offer (so the apocrypha goes), and wanted to make itself available to other would-be suitors.

I'm impressed that a really smart company can choose to be so dumb.

To us marketing types, Sun is a rocking success story that in many ways tops Apple on the branding front. This is the company that gave the world the slogan "the network is the computer" back in the 1980s. Its first workstations had built-in Ethernet capabilities. It created the Java programming language, and then added it to an overall development strategy that was open-source long before anybody really knew what that might mean. Its OpenOffice is a suite of free productivity tools that has been doing battle with Microsoft Office since before Google ever first mentioned trying to do the same.

This is all the stuff of brilliant, insightful branding.

Sun's problem, however, is that it has always had trouble translating its leading brand identity into tangible business results...or at least not doing so consistently. Sun makes its money selling gizmos that connect things to and from the Internet, mostly, along with other gizmos that do specialized things that are getting no-so-specialized these days. Its image and reputation have always preceded this reality, sometimes so distantly that the branding was useless.

What it really needs is an established, consistent, context-setting-and delivering sales strategy and team to give it the business its image warrants.

That's why I'm surprised that it walked away from the IBM conversation, unless it was itself a smart sales strategy. It sure was dumb branding.

Jonathan Salem Baskin writes the Dim Bulb blog and is the author of Branding Only Works On Cattle.

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