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Sun finally sets on SavaJe

Sun Microsystems late on Thursday, announced an agreement to acquire the intellectual property assets of SavaJe, the Java-based mobile operating system developer.

The IT giant would say nothing further on the acquisition, other than that more details will be revealed at the annual JavaOne Conference to be held in San Francisco, May 8-11.

Despite the intrigue, the move answers one big question – what became of a very interesting initiative? – just as it raises many others.

It all went dark over at SavaJe in October last year, when rumours emerged that the company had burned through its capital and sent its UK staff home with their laptops until severance pay could be sorted out.

Telecoms.com had been chasing both contacts within the company and one of SavaJe’s US backers, Ridgewood Capital but no one was talking.

Now it remains to be seen what Sun will do with the platform.

SavaJe first made a splash in 2004, around the same time as the Open Mobile Terminal Alliance (OMTP) was pitching for the delivery of openly standardised user interfaces in handsets. This movement gained significant support from the industry, including most of the major players in the vendor community.

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. LG Electronics, Hong Kong’s Group Sense and Chinese manufacturer Longcheer were the only vendors interested in commercialising the platform and then only in Asia.

When telecoms.com met with Andy Bush, director of business development at SavaJe in September last year, there was talk of a future IPO and he demonstrated a working version of a Vodafone branded user interface, which suggested a European interest but then it all went quiet.

The Java basis of the platform makes it a perfect fit for Sun and one of the big questions now is whether the company will open source the OS just as it did with Java last year.


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