Dave Megginson (who drove the development of the SAX API that will be familiar to many XML developers who use Java) recently wrote Java is dead.
Java stood out as a programming language (though not as a platform) in that Sun had refused to standardize it through an independent and reputable standards organization (a lot of the hard work had been done in one attempt to put it through ECMA and one to put it through ISO, both times Sun pulled out and eventually made their highly unsatisfactory JCP Java Community Process system.) Without the ability to alter Java significantly in ways that might go against their druthers, Java suffered two major forks (Microsoft's J++ then its C#, and IBM's SWT) where significant players disagreed with a major component (the graphics library). Java succeeded in middleware, and but failed to take advantage of the rise of browsers on the deskop: their HTML parser was great for the middle 1990s but was deliberately neglected to the point of being unusable: it is hard not to see this as a deliberate attempt by Sun to leave the browser market to its friends and enemies. I really liked Java, and bet my company on it (in a sense): I would not do that today.