Siemens seeks developers for Java mobile phone

Siemens AG is seeking developers to create applications for its new Java-enabled mobile phone handset, which is scheduled to hit stores in Germany later this month, followed shortly by launches in other major European markets. The phone will allow users to download and run small programs called applets, from calendars to games.

The company is offering a special "Early Bird" developers' package containing the phone, known as model SL45i, and development tools including Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Forte for Java 3.0 and the Siemens SL45i Software Development Kit, said Stefan Müller, a spokesman for Siemens' Information and Communication Mobile division.

The package costs 650 euros (US$590); the SL45i alone will retail for 1199 marks (US$557), Müller said. Interested developers are invited to register online for the "Developers' Village" at http://www.siemens.com/mobile-partners.

"In principle we're open for all different types of applications that are thinkable, business as well as enterprise applications. We'd be interested in all applications that are offered to us; we'll test them and either reject them or decide we'll accept them for the device, or else we'll give (the developers) contacts to the big network providers," Müller said.

He characterized the SL45i as the world's first Java-enabled GSM (global system for mobile communications) handset. While Nokia Corp. began shipping its Java-enabled Nokia 9210 Communicator in June, that device, a combined phone and PDA (personal digital assistant), weighs in at 244 grams and retails for 6800 Finnish markka (US$1,037), according to a Nokia spokeswoman. By contrast, the SL45i, at 88 grams, is the first Java-enabled "classic" mobile phone, Müller said.

Nokia, too, is actively courting Java developers, both for the Communicator and for a planned Java-enabled mobile phone, said spokesman Pekka Isosomppi.

"The important thing is these (applications) have to be there already prior to the launch of the terminals; we have the tools for Java developers, even though we don't have any handsets out yet," he said. "You have to have a good lead of six months or so the developers can start familiarizing themselves, so once the handsets hit the market, we're confident there will be lots of applications already available."

Programmers interested in joining Nokia's online developers' community can register at http://www.forum.nokia.com, he said, adding that the company already has some 500,000 developers in its program.

"It's such a simple thing to do; Java is one of the best known computer programming languages today," he said.

Nokia can further draw on its experience marketing Java-enabled phones in Japan, where applications via the iMode wireless Internet service have proven popular since they became available early this year. "We do have a lot of firsthand experience, and the most important lesson is there is a market for this, so there no question about whether these things will be desirable or not," Isosomppi said. "The big question is how to make it available and how to get people access to these systems, how to download and install and use them; there's a lot of work to be done there, but certainly the market is in place."

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