This is big news, apparently broken by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday (18 March). Vivian Yeo had an short article on it in ZDNet, and Stephen Shankland of CNET had an extensive piece on it – suggesting that the sale would have some severe stumbling blocks, including a clash of cultures between Sun and IBM.
The New York Times discussed the possibility at length on 19 March. The piece in the NYT posits that such a merger would invite antitrust scrutiny from the U.S. government – which I believe it would.
According to the NYT, Sun went looking for a buyer and was turned down by Hewlett-Packard among others.
The possibility of a sale of Sun Microsystems is by no means new; in 1996 there was raised (by the Wall Street Journal on 23 January) the possibility of an Apple-Sun merger, which was finally put to rest by a succinct press release from Apple (then under Gil Amelio): Apple is “not currently in merger discussions with any party.” (This was also covered in the February 1996 edition of SunWorld).
In 2006, there was some discussion in the 4 June 2006 San Francisco Chronicle about the possibility that Sun was preparing itself for sale, having just jettisoned its poison pill and laying off 5,000 workers.
In August of that year, the possibility of a Sun-Apple merger was brought up again with the ascent of Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, to the board of Apple. John Dvorak suggested on 30 August that Schmidt could be an intermediary to a Sun-Apple deal.
That same day, Dan Farber, senior editor at ZDNet, replied, essentially stating that such a possibility was unthinkable.
So, we will have to wait and see what happens.