Sun deal to see Jini enter home appliance market

One of Japan's largest consumer electronics manufacturers will announce an alliance with Sun Microsystems today, that could include a commitment by the Japanese firm to use Sun's Jini technology in future products, according to sources familiar with the deal.

The announcement, will bring together Sun -- which is trying to expand the Java programming language into devices used in the home -- with Matsushita, which under the broad deal, will announce plans to support Java in some of its future home digital electronic appliances, sources said.

Jini is a Java-based set of components for enabling digital devices to work easily with each other over a network. Matsushita makes a range of digital products that could benefit from the technology, including cameras, camcorders and storage systems.

Meanwhile, Matsushita's Panasonic division in the US will also announce that it is working with Sun to include Java technology in digital consumer electronics products for the home, Sun spokeswoman Rebecca Baer said.

Panasonic will announce that it is developing several products that will be able to connect to a computer network using Java, Baer said, although she declined to provide any specifics.

Panasonic's announcement in the US is not expected to include an agreement related to Jini, although the announcement from the parent company in Japan may, Baer said.

The announcements come after a heavy bout of courting by Sun officials of Japan's leading consumer electronics makers. In recent months, both Sun CEO Scott McNealy and Sun co-founder Bill Joy have travelled to Japan to woo the vendors there.

Other Japanese vendors that are considering licensing the Jini technology include Toshiba and Sony, officials at the companies said in interviews.

Though today's agreement appears to be a coup for Sun -- Matsushita is the most powerful consumer electronics maker in Japan's domestic market and a key supplier of many components to foreign computer makers -- Matsushita is not putting all of its eggs in one basket. In July, the company announced a broad deal to license Windows CE from Sun rival Microsoft.

Sun recently indicated that it will make an official launch of Jini at a special event to be held January 25.

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