Sun's McNealy sees changing roles for ISPs

Underscoring his company's focus on the Internet service provider (ISP) market, Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy, has spoken at the Sun ISP Conference & Industry Forum regarding the company's ISP strategy going forward. According to McNealy, Sun is looking to transition ISPs from being content service providers into application service providers, and finally into becoming full service providers.

Underscoring his company's focus on the Internet service provider (ISP) market, Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy, has spoken at the Sun ISP Conference & Industry Forum regarding the company's ISP strategy going forward.

"We have no desire to compete with you and become a service provider," McNealy said. Instead, he said Sun is looking at service providers as "the target market" and a "different opportunity and challenge."

According to McNealy, Sun is looking to transition ISPs from being content service providers into application service providers, and finally into becoming full service providers. To get there, he emphasised that the company will be providing scalable solutions that allow ISPs' customers to "get access anywhere, anytime."

For example, McNealy demonstrated how advancements in technologies -- such as smartcards -- will help drum up business for ISPs. Via a computer, set-top box, or a cellular phone, users should be able to access personalised Web pages, Internet-commerce sites, or financial sites.

"A user doesn't have to carry PCs around, just a smartcard," McNealy said. "(Smartcards) are the ultimate thin clients."

Attendees at the conference were enthusiastic about the possibilities posed by McNealy, but were also anxious to find out more about actual implementation.

"They sound good, but what are the real applications and how do we do it?" said Gloria Nogales, project manager of network technologies and messaging and enhanced services at AirTouch International, in Walnut Creek, California.

Another attendee noted that a missing piece of the puzzle is figuring out how to bill customers for new services.

Sun Microsystems Inc., in Mountain View, California, can be reached at http://www.sun.com/.

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