Sun has launched JavaFX using JavaFX Script which is a RIA kit for Java. I will have to look further into this for a few specifics like 3d support but there is another great Java library for effects called processing. But an RIA tool using Java applets may seem mid-ninties-ish but Java applets have been having some success online including many 3d viewers, games like runescape, mini apps, financial tools and ftp toolkits on their limited desktop and web usage.
This seems to confirm that the market is currently headed towards RIA applications with the three big development companies introducing new toolkits for RIA and interactive web apps (Microsoft Silverlight, Flash9/AS3, now Sun JavaFX).
This RIA kit is Open (Source) for Business
Additional Competition Possibly
I like this because its open source and because it will put pressure on the competition of Adobe vs. Microsoft possibly. Adobe will be launching Flashlite 3 soon with FLV video support which is quite a race on the mobile side. Most importantly, Java has a full consistent package now which may help its adoption since it spans mobile, tv, web, desktop. Historically Java kits have been all over the place. Adobe may eventually be pressured into opening up Flash at some point if this gains traction and advances quickly. Or this could be a dying flare thrown up in Java’s demise. Personally now that it is open, I think that Java has only just started and gaining a second wind.