Japan event to highlight Java on cellphones

Asia has served as the backdrop for Java's rise on wireless devices and looks to be the region that will take the lead role with the programming language's advantages as a multimedia platform, when Asia's largest telecommunication companies show their latest services at the JavaOne conference this week in Yokohama, Japan.

Java creator Sun Microsystems Inc. will host the conference that runs from Nov. 28 to 30, hoping to spur developer interest in the "write once, run anywhere" language. Sun will be joined by Japan's leading telecommunication companies, NTT DoCoMo Inc. J-Phone Inc. and KDDI Corp., at the event which is expected to highlight Java's use on cellular handsets. Around 10 million Java-enabled handsets are on the market worldwide of which more than 90 percent are in Japan.

One of the key areas of interest at the show will be Java's role in delivering multimedia applications onto cell phones and other types of wireless handsets, said Rich Green, vice president and general manager of Java Software for Sun Microsystems. Higher speed networks like the third-generation (3G) mobile services being deployed by NTT DoCoMo should help Java developers shift from concentrating on stock tickers and horoscope applications to programs that deliver music and video to phones.

"Now, with NTT DoCoMo rolling out 3G, you are beginning to see the earliest bit of Java's next wave," Green said. "Both static and dynamic content is being served up with Java on the device and with Java working in the back end as a billing engine, page server and provisioning network."

The connection between J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) running on servers and J2ME (Java 2 Micro Edition) running on wireless devices makes its easier for carriers to deliver applications with as little hassle as possible to users, Green said. This union coupled with Java's popularity has helped make the technology a popular choice for telecommunication vendors, especially as they look to profit from multimedia services.

"If you are a wireless service provider, your revenue model is increasingly based on interactive content," Green said. "They are likely to generate some interesting content by looking to the large base of Java developers."

To help spur developer interest, Sun will release several new toolkits and updates to Java specifications this week along with its partners' announcements. Among these is the release of the enhanced J2ME wireless toolkit -- designed to let developers quickly create Java applets for mobile applications.

Companies look to take these tools and deliver a host of applications to both the young and old. Java has already shown traction in the wireless gaming space, but the technology will now be used to deliver media rich, 3-D entertainment, Green said. Developers are also trying to make streaming video, digital photos and other entertainment software commonplace on Java-enabled devices, Green said.

While Java has garnered interest in the wireless market thus far, there are no guarantees that it will serve as the main tool for creating applications on devices in a fast-paced and fickle industry. Still, Sun's Green claims Java's early lead will stimulate its roll as an application hub on devices.

"I think there is a very good chance Java will by far be the dominant platform," Green said. "We have folks in the product development arm that walk around half the day worried about better battery life on devices. They are really into this stuff. That is the sign of maturation in a technology, and it creates a real barrier of entry to others."

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