Part of Sun’s push behind JavaFX will be called "Project Hydrazine". (Hydrazine is a toxic and volatile rocket fuel.) This is still a bit fuzzy, and they only left the boxes-and-arrows slide up for a few seconds, but here’s what I was able to glean.
Hydrazine includes common federated services for discovery, personalization, deployment, location, and development. There’s a "cloud" component to it, which wasn’t entirely clear from their presentation. Overall, the goal appears to be an easier model for creating end-user applications based on a service component architecture. All tied together and presented with JavaFX, of course.
One very interesting extension—called "Project Insight"—that Rich Green and Jonathan Schwartz both discussed is the ability to instrument your applications to monitor end-user activity in your apps.
(This immediately reminded me of Valve’s instrumentation of Half-Life 2, episode 2. The game itself reports back to Valve on player stats: time to complete levels, map locations where they died, play time and duration, and so on. Valve has previously talked about using these stats to improve their level design by finding out where players get frustrated, or quit, and redesigning those levels.)
I can see this being used well: making apps more usable, proactively analyzing what features users appreciate or don’t understand, and targeting development effort at improving the overall experience.
Of course, it can also be used to target advertising and monitor impressions and clicks. Rich promoted this as the way to monetize apps built using Project Hydrazine. I can see the value in it, but I’m also ambivalent about creating even more channels for advertising.
In any event, users will be justifiably anxious about their TV watching them back. It’s just a little too Max Headroom for a lot of people. Sun says that the data will only appear in the aggregate. This leads me to believe that the apps will report to a scalable, cloud-based aggregation service from which developers can get the aggregated data. Presumably, this will be run by Sun.
Unlike Apple’s iron-fisted control over iPhone application delivery, Sun says they will not be exercising editorial control. According to Schwartz, Hydrazine will all be free: free in price, freely available, and free in philosophy.