SAN MATEO (06/12/2000) - Although a single wireless solution to render any document from the Internet to a small handset still eludes the mobile marketplace, Sun Microsystems Inc.'s delivery of its Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME) development platform will certainly fuel the deployment of an increasing number of services on cell phones.
Sun also hopes the platform release will send the scent of Java wafting over the burgeoning array of mobile and embedded devices.
At the fifth annual JavaOne conference in San Francisco last week, BMW, Lucky Goldstar, Motorola, NTT DoCoMo, and Sega were just a few of the participants demonstrating J2ME in their product lines.
Motorola showed off a prototype of its iDEN phone running J2ME with a number of corporate applications such as e-mail, expense reporting, and LDAP services.
Lucky Goldstar previewed its WebPhone, even smaller than the diminutive iDEN, that is selling now only in Asia. And according to Curtis Sasaki, Sun's director of product marketing for the J2ME platform, NTT DoCoMo will include J2ME in a new model of its iMode phone later this year.
"Although on the surface it appears J2ME might compete with WAP [Wireless Application Protocol] in the cell phone space, [they] will co-exist. J2ME is optimized for the local environment, and WAP is optimized for a mobile [wireless] environment," said Rebecca Diercks, an analyst at Cahners In-Stat Group, in Newton, Mass.
In the meantime, BMW, displaying a bit of corporate caution, demonstrated on a prototype SUV what "in-vehicle computing might look like in the future."
Both BMW and Motorola demonstrations of J2ME technology used ToGo Mobile Solutions software from a small start-up company called Bonita Software, in San Francisco. The company's technology converts Java Standard and Enterprise Edition applications for J2ME platforms.
Because of the long-term downward spiral in memory prices and its small 512KB footprint, J2ME is being looked at by some giant business-to-consumer players.
This summer, one of the world's largest music publishers,Universal Music Group, whose record labels include Geffen Records and A & M Records, will launch a non-MP3 site for the commercial selling of digital music over the Internet.
The company will distribute music via cell phones, kiosks, and PDAs (personal digital assistants) and is backing the deployment of Java on those platforms.
"As we deploy this stuff, the more it can be consumed in a consistent way the happier I am going to be," said Albhy Galuten, senior vice president of advanced technology for e-Labs at Universal Music Group, in Los Angeles.
At JavaOne, American Express announced a contest to encourage Java developers to create applications for its Blue Card, a credit card with an embedded digital certificate on a smart chip for online shopping security.
"The commitment that Sun has to security is very important," said Martin Wittwer, vice president and general manager of Smart Card Enterprise Development at American Express, in New York.
Sun Microsystems Inc., in Palo Alto, Calif., is at www.sun.com.