Here is a couple of responses to this annual question I thought worth sharing:
There is a common myth amongst technologists that better technology will always be the most successful or that you must keep improving or die. A counter example I use is the QWERTY keyboard. No one who uses it, does so because it is a) natural or easy to learn b) faster to use c) newer or cooler than the alternatives. Yet many developers who couldn’t imagine using anything other than a qwerty keyboard insist that Java must be dead for these reasons. I have looked at predictions that Java is dead from the year 1996 and found these predictions follow Java’s popularity and when there was a drop interest due to the long age of Java 1.4 and Java 6, there was also a drop in predictions that Java is dead. (When IMHO that would have been a good time to question such things) I have come to the conclusion that passionate calls that Java is dead is a good sign that Java is alive and well and annoying developers who would prefer people used a “better” language.
In a discussion on the same topic I added:
Tiobe Index This table suggest Java has the highest interest of any language. (Possibly in part due to a security issue) Secondly, the other languages which are it’s main competition are both older and lower level. While there are many who would like to believe that higher level languages are winning, there isn’t any evidence this is the case. For example, the security hole was in using Java with medium security level (not the default) as an applet. While Java applet are not that popular, running ruby, php or python in a browser is far less popular.
On a final note:
Just because Java is popular, doesn’t make it the best, but conversely it’s failings are not a good indication of the beginning of the end. If you look at talent show winners, the most popular celebrities or election winners, you have to wonder what makes these people so special really. It is not surprising you might think the same thing about Java, but just like popular people, what make a language popular is not purely a technical or rational argument.