Intel, Sun partner for mobility

Sun Microsystems Inc. and Intel Corp. on Monday announced they will collaborate to promote Java and Intel’s XScale processor technology for mobile devices.

As part of the agreement, the organizations will use Sun’s Connected Limited Device Configuration (CLDC) Hotspot Implementation on Intel’s XScale’s family of processors for mobile devices such as cell phones and PDAs.

The CLDC HotSpot Implementation is a Virtual Machine targeted at mobile devices that include mobile handsets and pagers, according to the companies. Intel’s PXA255, PXA26a processors, along with its latest PXA800F cellular processor will provide the platform for the mobile devices. The chip maker said it is intrigued about the new business opportunities.

“We think this is a huge vote of confidence for Intel particularly because Java is one of the leading operating environments on the handset side, and Intel is really a newcomer in that segment,” said Mark Miller, a spokesperson at Intel in Folsom, Calif. He added that the market strategy will be to tackle the enterprise and consumer segments, as each represent potential opportunities.

“On the handset side, there’s a very big demand from the consumer side for some of these multimedia messaging services. On the [enterprise] side, with PDAs in particular, we see a low hanging fruit opportunity to enable the wireless enterprise to make sure that sales forces have access to their data,” Miller said.

In the PDA space, Intel has a strong market presence and as Miller continued, one of the strategies will be for Java to make gains in the areas of audio and video multimedia by leveraging Intel’s XScale technologies.

On the handset side, Java continues to lead the market while Microsoft Corp.’s .Net operating system reigns supreme in the handheld market. That being said, one analyst tipped his hand to Intel as the winner of the deal with Sun.

“The key for a company like Intel with its XScale architecture is in moving large volumes of units and right now Intel is doing well in the smartphone segment. But, that is a very small segment of the market in terms of total devices that are shipping and selling,” said John Jackson, an analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston.

With 450 million handsets projected to ship this year, compared to approximately 15 million handhelds, Intel now has access to a much larger market, he added.

Michael Rozender, president at Rozender Consultants International in Oakville, Ont., says that Sun’s lead is slipping in the handset market and while he called the deal a “win-win” for both vendors, it is Sun that needed this deal.

“Anything is beneficial to Sun these days if it improves their relationships and positions because it’s fairly well known that Sun is vulnerable to a take-over. There’s a lot of concern in the Java community that the sun may be setting on Sun,” he said.

The companies are online at and