According to a joint press release, Oracle has saved Sun. Well, the press release doesn't say much about saving, but does outline the acquisition of Sun by Oracle.
Same thing really. From an outsiders perspective, Sun was such a horribly run company since the 1.0 bubble burst, it could not survive without being saved.
The truth is Sparc was a great thing in the 90's, before Intel really got going. But since then Intel, initially spurred by AMD, has totally blown the rest of the chip market, such as it was, away. This just makes sense. They are the only company that had the resources to invest in fabs (factories) at the necessary scale. No one else could possibly keep up.
This left Sun with this massive customer base and investment in a technology that had absolutely no future. They tried to shift towards Intel chips, but you could tell their heart wasn't in it. Then their once vaunted Solaris operating system got whipped by Linux. Yes there are some things Solaris can do that Linux can't. But Linux was open source, which means it just had more team members. Solaris went open source, but by then it was too late. It was another also ran along with Sparc.
Towards the end, Sun move aggressively to position around software, and specifically Java, even, oddly, changing their stock ticker symbol to JAVA. This was strange since, for one thing, the company makes so little money from Java, and they never executed or even articulated a strategy to do so.
Along they way they bought MySQL for a billion dollars. More folly for a company whose just announced sale price was 7.4 billion dollars to Oracle.
Perhaps it is unfair to blame Sun's failure on bad management. They had great success in the 90's, but the anchors of that success in the 90s - Sparc and Solaris, became anchors around their neck after the bubble burst. Sun is a big company and it is indeed hard to shift away so quickly from all the things that were so recently the core's of your success.
In truth, in thinking about this, I am not exactly sure what Sun management could have done given the hand they were dealt. What do you think?