Sun: We'll put Java on the iPhone

Sun developing a Java Virtual Machine for Apple iPhone

Sun Microsystems is developing a Java Virtual Machine for Apple's iPhone and plans to release the JVM some time after June, enabling Java applications to run on the popular mobile device.

The JVM is to be based on the Java Micro Edition (ME) version of Java, said Eric Klein, vice president of Java marketing at Sun, on Friday afternoon. Apple had not shown interest in enabling Java to run on the iPhone, but Sun plans to step in and do the job itself.

"Now, the iPhone is open" as a target platform, Klein said. The free JVM would be made available via Apple's AppStore marketplace for third-party applications.

"We're going to make sure that the JVM offers the Java applications as much access to the native functionality of the iPhone as possible," he said.

Besides Java games, developers could bring over enterprise applications such as ERP or CRM to the iPhone, said Klein. Apple's iTouch, which features iPhone capabilities minus telephony, also will be supported by the JVM.

"Once our JVM is on the phone, we anticipate that a large number of Java applications would run on the phone," Klein said.

"We're going to work to make sure that the JVM offers the Java applications as much access to the native functionality of the iPhone as possible," said Klein.

By bringing the JVM to the iPhone, Java capabilities in area such as SSL security could be brought to Apple's platform, said analyst Chris Silva of Forrester Research.

"I think going forward, with the SDK, it takes out of Apple's control which applications are 'right' for the iPhone," Silva said.

Sun came to the conclusion it could make a JVM work on the iPhone after taking 24 hours to look at information on Apple's SDK. Sun saw nothing in the public statements preventing the JVM from being one of the applications enabled on the iPhone, said Klein. Apple released the SDK in conjunction with the beta release if its iPhone 2.0 software; the general release of iPhone 2.0 is scheduled for June.

Future plans could include extending more sophisticated Java Standard Edition (SE) and JavaFX technologies to the iPhone, Klein said.

"It's a new platform for us. We might be able to bring additional technologies onto the iPhone and the iTouch," Klein said.

Developers, Klein said, have built great applications, and until now they have been unable to get them running on the iPhone. Sun previously has expressed its desire that Java be supported on the iPhone.

Apple could not be reached for comment on Sun's plans in time for this article.

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