James Gosling has been in the thick of the debate over how Java stacks up against some of the emerging server-side software technologies (dynamic scripting languages, LAMP, AJAX). In an interview with zdnet he's pretty frank about the role of Java, Ruby, PHP, LAMP, etc. and the importance of tools for developer productivity.
I particularly like (and agree) with what he says about Java EE (J2EE) :
You take things like J2EE (server software), it's become almost sort of the opposite of trendy, in the sense that it's totally mainstreamed, totally proven mission critical. It's very corporate, it has been really seriously battle tested, and for lots of folks it's become a completely safe bed (sic).
For people running businesses - "battle tested", "corporate", "mission critical" are the kind of adjectives you want to hear. That said Java (and Java EE) is still managing to pique the interests of the next generation of developer with innovative new features in the Java language and the Java EE platform - that's a major achievement - balancing the tension of the mainstream and the early adopter.
I'm fairly sure that Java still has a long way to go before it reaches its prime and it's encouraging to see that Java is still entering new markets and finding entirely new applications (Java sets the standard for future cable systems).