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Will Java SE Replace ME in Mobile Devices?

2 replies on 1 page. Most recent reply: Oct 24, 2007 4:21 AM by Sean Landis

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Frank Sommers

Posts: 2642
Nickname: fsommers
Registered: Jan, 2002

Will Java SE Replace ME in Mobile Devices? Posted: Oct 19, 2007 1:22 PM
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A recent CNET article quotes Sun's James Gosling and Rich Green, suggesting that increased capabilities in Java ME, more streamlined versions of SE, and improvements in mobile devices, will result in the mobile Java platform gravitating towards Java SE.

As mobile devices are becoming increasingly powerful, it will be possible to run streamlined versions of Java SE on those devices, instead of Java ME, noted James Gosling and Rich Green in a recent CNET interview by Stephen Shankland, Sun starts bidding adieu to mobile-specific Java:

Java Standard Edition (SE), geared for desktop computers, will gradually supplant Java Micro Edition (ME) as technology improvements let more computing power be packed into smaller devices, said James Gosling, the Sun vice president often called the father of Java.

"We're trying to converge everything to the Java SE specification. Cell phones and TV set-top boxes are growing up," Gosling said at a Java media event here Wednesday. "That convergence is going to take years..."

Sun's Java expectation dovetails with recent trends, most notably Apple's iPhone, which architecturally is much more an Apple computer writ small than a mobile phone writ large. In particular, Apple uses a version of its regular Safari Web browser so users will have as much of the desktop Internet experience as possible.

At the same time, Intel is working to bring x86 processors that run PCs into mobile gadgets. It's in cahoots with open-source efforts including Ubuntu Mobile and Mobile Firefox...

The move to Java SE won't happen overnight. Rich Green, Sun's executive vide president of software, said he expects smart phones using various pared-down versions of Java to stay in the market for at least a decade.

But the shift already was under way. "All the work in Java ME had been pushing it closer and closer to Java SE," Gosling said.

The article pointed to JavaFX, Sun's new mobile Java initiative that Gosling described in the interview as among the company's largest ever software development projects:

The prime example of the trend is Sun's own JavaFX Mobile, software Sun got through its SavaJe acquisition and which the company hopes mobile phone makers will embrace. JavaFX Mobile includes almost all of Java SE, though it's missing a few pieces such as CORBA (brace yourself: Common Object Request Broker Architecture) for getting software to work with other programs across a network.

JavaFX mobile is one component of a multipronged effort called JavaFX that Sun announced in May at its JavaOne conference.

"JavaFX is probably the largest and most complex software engineering effort Sun has ever done," Gosling said.

The article does not point out, however, that Java ME is used in embedded devices as well as on mobile handsets.

What do you think increased adoption of Java SE for mobile devices will mean for Swing and other major desktop Java APIs?

Arthuro Toscano

Posts: 11
Nickname: arthuroz
Registered: Oct, 2006

Re: Will Java SE Replace ME in Mobile Devices? Posted: Oct 20, 2007 2:52 AM
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Nokia and Sony-Ericsson are bundling eSWT, the mobile version of the SWT-GUI toolkit, with their Symbian-phones. Every Java/MIDP-enabled device from i.e. Nokia (what means almost all) will be SWT-enabled. That will give SWT a large boost. Motorola and Sony-Ericsson are cooperating on UIQ and we will probably see SWT-support for UIQ too. SWT say eSWT and eRCP are very close to the SWT/Eclipse desktop-API's.

Do Nokia, Motorola and Sony-Ericsson, the major mobile-players, have any interest in supporting Sun's FX-technology? Maybe Mr. Gosling or Mr. Schwartz could answer the question. Did Sun talk to Nokia, Sony-Ericcson, Motorola, Google (!), Samsung, Apple and the likes? If not the future will look dark for Sun's new mobile strategy. A “Sunphone“ will never exist (maybe one or more gPhones). Why does Sun sink money in the FX-project? Why should mobile companies use Swing if they can use the native Java-GUI-toolkit say the SWT?

Sean Landis

Posts: 129
Nickname: seanl
Registered: Mar, 2002

Re: Will Java SE Replace ME in Mobile Devices? Posted: Oct 24, 2007 4:21 AM
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It will take a long time to get Java SE on mobile phones. Not because of the technology but because of the carriers. They have little desire to let go of their stranglehold on the bit pipe and service provisioning. They are terrified of what an open device on their network might lead to.

The iPhone was a major coup in the perfect storm. Apple found a carrier that needed a serious boost at a time when two poor quality carriers were being merged into one big poor quality network. They needed each other. It was perfect timing.

All Apple had to do was 1) break in with one carrier, and 2) make the coolest phone we've ever seen. The bet was that once people saw the iPhone, they wouldn't be able to resist (despite the crappy network). When the other carriers saw that, they'd grudgingly loosen their grip. So far it appears to be working.

For years cool technology has been there...maybe not as cool as the iPhone. The problem was that no phone manufacturer had the smarts AND the motivation to try to break the carrier stranglehold. The big phone manufacturers walk a tightrope of innovation vs. compliance with the carriers who buy their phones. Why rock the boat by pushing features on a customer who isn't interested?

Apple, as an outsider, had everything to gain. They appear to have done the hard parts, breaking in with a vendor, and making an unbelievable phone. Now we just have to wait and see if the iPhone generates enough interest to compel the other carriers to go that way. My feeling is that this movement will determine when we get Java SE on mobile devices.

To my point about the technology having been in place, the old guard of phone manufacturers have followed Apple with their own very cool devices, several running Linux. Next generation phones take years to develop; these phones were already around when Apple made its move. The carriers have seen them and none were purchased for American markets.

The SavaJe phone has been around for a long time too but it never got anywhere. They had other challenges like company size. An outsider has to have serious clout. That's what makes the rumors of a Google phone interesting.

To the point about the perfect storm, why hasn't Sun been able to sell the SavaJe phone? Sun is not exactly an outsider to the carriers as it provides a ton of infrastructure hardware. Sun probably has the clout too. My belief is that the other carriers haven't reached their pain threshold quite yet.

When they do, will Sun be a player? Will any outsider be a player? My guess is that the entrance door has slammed shut behind Apple. If the rest of the carriers are going to open up their networks, they will do it with their trusted allies and not some outsider who doesn't 'understand' their business.

I don't think Sun will be allowed to pull an Apple and bust into the market with the cool Java SE device. That said, I do believe it will happen but it will be Nokia, Motorola, and the others who get that prize.

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