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Sun warms up Java for mobile platform

Following its acquisition of mobile platform SavaJe in April, computer giant Sun Microsystems has pledged to take another crack at the “write once, run anywhere” promise of Java on the mobile.

Speaking at the 2007 JavaOne conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, Rich Green, executive vice president of Sun Software, unveiled the first in a new family of Java-based platforms for portable and embedded devices.

JavaFX Mobile is a scripting language designed for creating rich content and applications to run on Java-powered devices from mobile phones to Blu-ray Disc players, set top boxes, navigation devices and automobile dashboards.

JavaFX will be made available via OEM license to carriers, content owners and consumer electronics manufacturers and will be available to the free and open source community via the GNU General Public License (GPL) license.

Sun acquired the intellectual property assets of SavaJe, the Java-based mobile operating system developer, for an undisclosed sum in April after SavaJe ran into financial difficulties.

What SavaJe was proposing to do, was deliver an open and flexible user interface based on the desktop version of Java. Its roots made it attractive to the developer community, whilst operators loved the customisation options and security but the company had problems getting mainstream vendor support.

Essentially, SavaJe set out to do what Java ME did not do. As it is both a programming language and an application execution environment, Java ME promised application standardisation across all handsets. But due to the vast differences between devices, these promises were short lived and the write once, run anywhere idea remained a dream.

So it remains to be seen whether, given a second chance, SavaJe can make a go of it in the mobile arena. The market is not small – Ovum estimates there were around 2.1 billion Java-enabled mobile devices at the end of March.

“With JavaFX, Sun is leveraging the security and pervasiveness of the world’s most widely deployed technology platform to allow creative professionals to easily author and deliver on any device,” said Sun’s Green. “This is a major step towards helping consumers access the best content on the internet from every device and a significant opportunity for Sun and its partners to deliver a whole new line of products.”

Interestingly, the announcement also contained a quote from mobile operator Vodafone. “The Java platform’s ubiquity and security have clearly amplified Vodafone’s opportunity through our Vodafone live! services and shoulder to shoulder with Sun Microsystems, we’ve relied upon open platforms, free markets and competition to drive innovation and value. We are enthusiastic about Sun’s new JavaFX product family and the opportunity it presents to Vodafone and the global community to drive deployment of a unified Java solution on mobile devices,” said Alan Harper, Vodafone group strategy and new business director.

When telecoms.com met with Andy Bush, director of business development at SavaJe in September 2006, just before the lights went out, we saw a working version of a Vodafone live! user interface built on SavaJe. So maybe that project will get its day in the sun after all.


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