Sun teams up with mobile phone makers for Java apps

Java’s creator and four mobile phone makers announced this week they have developed a process for testing and certifying Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME) applications for wireless handheld devices.

The Java Verified Process was spearheaded by Sun Microsystems Inc., Motorola Inc., Nokia Inc., Siemens AG and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB in an effort to facilitate creation and dissemination of J2ME applications and to spur the adoption of standards for J2ME development.

“This program was set up to help developers have a single means of testing their Java content and ensuring compatibility across devices from [Motorola, Nokia, Siemens and Sony Ericsson],” said Craig Miller, group marketing manager, consumer and mobile solutions group at Sun in Boston. He added that the Java Verified Process is not an exclusive club and is open to accepting new members.

There are about 250 million Java technology-enabled wireless devices from 31 manufacturers deployed in over 75 carrier networks around the world, thus this market presents a tremendous opportunity for J2ME developers, Miller said. He said there are also about 10,000 J2ME applications worldwide.

Once an application has been certified by the Java Verified Process it will receive the Java Powered Logo and each version of the application shipped will be digitally signed to guarantee the user it has not been tampered with, Miller said.

Adam Zawel, an analyst at the Yankee Group in Boston, said right now there can be numerous versions of the same J2ME application in order to accommodate the different ways vendors have implemented Java.

“There needs to be a standard process though which application developers can certify their products and have the ability to write it once and publish it anywhere,” he said, adding that this sort of simplification is necessary to get more developers writing, distributing and profiting from J2ME applications.

Zawel said the Java community could look to Qualcomm Inc. and what is has done with its Brew platform as a guide. Brew is a development platform for mobile devices for Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) phones. Qualcomm has used its Web site to create a one-stop-shop for Brew developers to get their applications tested, certified and distributed to any Brew carriers.

While the Java Verified Process provides a means for developers to get their applications tested, it doesn’t provide a standard means for distribution. However, Sun has stepped in and announced it will aggregate a list of J2ME content from developers on its Web site and provide this list to operators. This way they can potentially deliver these applications over their own networks, Miller said.

In turn, this will benefit the end user, because their operators will be able to offer them more products, Miller added.

Testing for the Java Verified process has been outsourced to four different companies that each have offices around the world. These include Babel Media Ltd., Cap Gemini Ernst & Young Frances SAS, the National Software Testing Labs, and RELQ Software Pvt. Ltd.

The cost to have an application verified will range between US$200 and US$400 depending on location, Miller said.

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