Is Apple hinting at Java’s exit from Mac OS X?

Back in 2006 when I made the move to a Mac, Apple had put a lot of effort into making Java/Swing Applications feel like native on Mac OS. Adopting Java and integrating it well with MacOS was key to attract new users to the Mac.

But Apple today is self-confident enough to declare mainstream technologies a legacy on their machines. It seems Adobe’s Flash (which is not shipped pre-installed on the new MacBook Air and is not available on any iOS device) now has a prominent friend.

Apple today announces that they won’t maintain a JRE for Mac any more:

As of the release of Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 3, the version of Java that is ported by Apple, and that ships with Mac OS X, is deprecated.

This means that the Apple-produced runtime will [..] may be removed from future versions of Mac OS X.

This does not mean that Java will go away from the Mac any time soon, but there will (very likely) be no Java Runtime from Apple any more. So now it is up to Oracle (or any other third party) to provide a Java Runtime for the Mac, because it seems Java 7 (if that ever becomes real) apps will not run on Macs any more. But it also means that betting on languages that run on the JVM for development on the Mac is not a good idea (I am especially thinking of Clojure and Scala here).

Some may think that’s no big deal, since Java is a server-technology and the overall market share of Macs is quite small.

But this also makes life harder for providers of software packages that are portable, like IBM (Lotus Notes, Symphony, DB2 tools etc), the Eclipse project, Oracle (admin tools) and many others. What will happen if they cannot install on Macs any more?

Will this hurt the Mac platform or the software vendors? Will the possible inability to run a Scala-App on Macs influence the developers’ decisions, or will it make the Mac an unattractive platform for users due to missing applications?

Is this just Apple moving away from the mainstream or is the mainstream becoming irrelevant for some corners of the IT industry?

Hat tip to macrumors