Wednesday Mar 21, 2007

Sun Related Trends

Dan Farber has a post talking about some Q&A with Jonathan Schwartz at a recent "Mashup Event" at a Sun campus.

His last paragraph is what caught my attention:

Sun's stock price has been trending upwards, and would seem to correlate with what Schwartz said he found in checking Google Trends for keywords associated with Sun–such as NetBeans, GlassFish and Niagara–are up and to the right. "Word of mouth is a way more efficient than buying ad words," he concluded. Based on the Google Trends chart below, it's unclear just high and to the right the keywords are trending.
Google Trends Graph for Sun-related Terms in 2006

(The chart that Farber references.)

I think his chart is a bit misleading. For one thing, it only covers 2006. We're almost a full quarter into 2007. So I think it's worth looking at that data:

Google Trends Graph for Sun-related Terms in 2007

(Same chart, but covering 2007.)

If you look closely at the 2007 picture, you'll see that the Sun-related terms (NetBeans, GlassFish, and Niagara) do all trend up. That's better, but this chart still suffers from a second problem: combining so many terms with such different search volumes makes it hard to see the trends. In other words, you shouldn't have to look so closely.

So let's look at charts for each of the Sun-related terms individually. (Also note that these charts use Google's "All Years" time period, since I don't want to run into the afore-mentioned issues with just seeing 2006 or 2007 data.)

Google Trends Graph for "NetBeans"

(Google Trends Chart for the "NetBeans" term.)

Google Trends Graph for "GlassFish"

(Google Trends Chart for the "GlassFish" term.)

Google Trends Graph for "Niagara"

(Google Trends Chart for the "Niagara" term.)

That's better. Both Niagara and GlassFish clearly do demonstrate "up and to the right" trend growth in these pictures. The Niagara picture might be seen as showing a stagnant overall trend, but I think that too can be addressed if we dig a little deeper.

The "Niagara" term is too ambiguous. While we at Sun (and hopefully any of you reading) think of it as the code name for our UltraSPARC T1 processors, most of the rest of the world thinks of it as a waterfall (or, as the dictionary tells us: a river, a fort, or a variety of grape). Searches from people seeking those kinds of "Niagara" are going to clutter up the trend chart (from our perspective).

So, let's instead look at some less ambiguous terms related to this Sun product. How about the actual server models which use the Niagara processor--the Sun Fire T1000 and T2000?

Google Trends Graph for "T1000"

(Google Trends Chart for "T1000" term.)

Google Trends Graph for "T2000"

(Google Trends Chart for "T2000" term.)

A bit better, perhaps. I realize that any true skeptics out there will argue that these show stagnant or even declining trends since 2006. But I think there are a few reasons to give this product line the benefit of the doubt. For one thing, it's likely to have people's searches be spread across many different terms (such as "Niagara," "CoolThreads," "UltraSPARC T1," "T1000," and "T2000"). Second, a throughput server such as this might appeal most to people who will already be familiar enough with Sun that their searches for it will take place directly on sun.com sites more often than on general search engines such as Google. And finally, Sun has publicly released sales figures which do demonstrate a lot of traction and momentum for these servers. For a hardware product, revenue probably trumps Google Trends as a momentum indicator.

By digging deeper, we have seen that there definitely is an up trend for two of these offerings (NetBeans and GlassFish). You may or may not feel that we've also established momentum for the Niagara offering. But even if you do discount that one, two out of three isn't bad. I'd say it's pretty supportive of Jonathan's original statement that we're seeing good momentum for Sun-related offerings.

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