Sun eyes mobile Java app future

Sun Microsystems Inc. has revealed plans to further develop component-based applications for wireless devices.

As the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company continues to beat its "Java everywhere" drum here at JavaOne, executives report that an internal project known as JavaFirst is examining how to make rich applications interact with services available on J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) back ends.

Sun's Vice President of Developer Tools Rich Green explained the next generation of enterprise applications for mobile devices will see run-time and application logic split between the client and server.

"The whole point of JavaFirst is really taking all these Web services and making them available to mobile devices," Green said. Developers creating Java-based applications for mobile devices can map the interfaces from services-based application architectures to a set of client stubs that allow the client and server to talk.

Working examples already exist. Sun is currently demonstrating on the JavaOne show floor beta applications such as Mobile Jolt, which provides access to a corporate personnel database via wireless connectivity to a cell phone.

Jeff Anders, Sun group marketing manager, explained other examples that fall under the Java First banner include SunONE Studio Mobile Edition, Sun's Project Relator that maps a rich client interface to server-side Java code, and an application called Javon that also maps mobile clients to J2EE back ends.

Meanwhile, Juan Dewar, Sun's senior director of marketing for the Consumer, Mobile Systems, and Solutions Software Division, said Sun is anticipating the day when mobile devices can access both carrier-based and Wi-Fi networks.

Cell phone manufacturers have a number of Wi-Fi projects underway that are being kept them under wraps through non-disclosure agreements, Dewar said.

Sun's primary role with the manufacturers and carriers is to bring wireless applications to the enterprise, with horizontal offerings for industries such as financial services and manufacturing, Dewar said.

"What we're going to do is go after those specific markets with this ecosystem of partners ... with specific solutions to help them mobilize on the enterprise in ways that haven't been done yet," he said. "What we're going to provide are some of the tools and programs and a platform so (the applications) can get rapidly deployed."

With this initiative, users will be able to use applications with a US$50 cell phone instead of a US$500 PDA, according to Dewar.

Ultimately the goal is convince developers that building applications for mobile devices is no different to PCs, Green explained.

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