Sun seeks comic relief during network slump

When the going gets tough, the tough change their slogans.

Sun Microsystems Inc. once proudly displayed its “We are the dot in dot-com slogan,” during the dot-com heyday. In the last few months, however, the company dropped that tag line in favour of “Take it to the Nth” – a campaign distanced from Internet associations. But Ed Zander, president and chief operating officer at Sun, had an idea this week for another slogan.

“The new slogan is: ‘anybody want to buy a server?,'” he said, during a speech at a Sun customer conference held in Santa Clara, Calif. last month.

As U.S.-based dot-coms go under almost daily and pull the plugs on their servers on the way out, Sun executives have been forced to turn to comedy to deflect some worry from slumping hardware sales.

Sun has already prepared investors for a bit of a bumpy ride, when the company announces its third quarter earnings last month. The company warned of lower than expected revenue totals back in February, citing a sharp drop in server sales.

Zander doled out a series of quips that showed his company remains lighthearted during tough times.

“It is good to have a laugh once and a while with the state of the market as it is,” Zander said.

Zander asked members of the audience to raise their hands if they wanted to buy a server, and said jokingly that a group of Sun sales representatives would be waiting for them outside of the conference hall.

Zander’s comic remarks showed that Sun is hurting as companies slow their IT purchases, but also that the company believes it will continue to profit as the Internet continues to mature. Zander insisted that the Internet is still in its infancy and that users can expect a much wider adoption of the technology as it matures.

“What we have seen in the last few years is that buying toothpaste on the network is not what this is all about,” Zander said. “We in the industry have to look past the slowing economy in the United States. We may be in a rough time in the next few quarters, but we have to tough it out and look beyond.”

Following the company’s usual mantra, Zander said users will eventually find the Internet in almost everything. At that point, users will be so used to the Internet they will not even notice it is there.

“You will know the Internet has arrived when it goes away,” Zander said.