Sun readies NetBeans boost

The open source platform championed by Sun Microsystems has less industry support than rival Eclipse, which enjoys the backing of vendors such as IBM and Oracle. But Sun on Monday is launching an effort to boost NetBeans and is seeking new endorsements.

NetBeans currently has the backing of about 125 partners, up from about 30 to 50 partners a year ago, but discussions are ongoing with a variety of potential new adopters, said Dan Roberts, director of marketing for developer tools at Sun. The Eclipse Foundation lists 144 member companies but has greater support from high-profile vendors.

"We're actively engaged with a wide variety of folks," ranging from mobile carriers and application lifecycle management vendors to handset manufacturers, Roberts said. "We're covering the complete gamut."

But Sun should focus on quality rather than quantity, an analyst said.

"I think that the key to Sun's success here is less about number and more about the quality and usefulness of the partner offerings they can attract," said Jeffrey Hammond, senior analyst at Forrester Research.

"There is a group of commercial plug-in providers to Eclipse who look at the user base as a fertile ground to developing their own markets. If Sun can convince these providers that the NetBeans user base is large enough and is a potentially profitable market segment, then they will be able to succeed in building an effective ecosystem," Hammond said.