Nokia and Sun prep Java for handsets

At the Sun Microsystems JavaOne Developer Conference this week both Sun and Nokia laid out their plans to enhance the Java environment for the next generation of handsets.

Code-named the Star Project, Sun appears to be focusing on consumer content with the announcement that it will work closely with NTT DoCoMo to define next-generation data services and content for consumers.

NTT DoCoMo is Japan's largest wireless carrier, with 30 million subscribers generating US$6 billion in revenue from data services, according to Alan Brenner, vice president for the Client Systems Group at Sun.

In the meantime, Nokia, through its Forum Nokia division, announced Forum Nokia Pro Enterprise Zone and Forum Nokia Pro Network Zone. These two new groups are a small subset of the Forum Nokia development community, and selected members will be taken under Nokia's wing to help develop enterprise-level applications for cell phones.

Nokia also announced that its Series 60 Platform handsets will be upgraded from its current CLDC (Connected Limited Device Configuration) to a more capable CDC (Connected Device Configuration) in preparation for improvements to Sun's MIDP (Mobile Information Device profile) Java profile for handsets.

MIDP when combined with CLDC is the Java runtime environment for the current crop of handsets and PDAs, according to Sun's Developer Network definition.

As handsets improve in memory and processing power, the need for a "limited" version of the CDC becomes unnecessary, according to J. David Rivas, CTO of the Client Systems Group at Sun.

Sun's Brenner and Victor Brilon, senior manager of Java Market Development at Nokia, said there will be several major improvements to Java for handsets once both CDC and a more capable MIDP are deployed.

These improvements include the capability of Java to run applications and the menu system simultaneously with managing voice functions such as hold and call forwarding.

Other improvements that can be expected include improved 3D and graphics capabilities and integration with add-on smart cards, Rivas said.

Brenner said the goal is to ramp up Java's mobile capabilities so that higher-level capabilities become part of Sun's JSRs, such as network management for mobile devices.

"Our goal is to create a Java Platform for mobile devices," Brenner said.

Both Nokia and Sun are focusing a great deal of attention on Java because they see Java as a technology that can run across multiple platforms. Sun wants to offer this technology to all wireless carriers and handset manufacturers. Nokia now licenses its Series 60 Platform to many handset manufacturers, including Samsung, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Sendo, and Lenova.

Forum Nokia counts over 2 million registered developers and is the largest mobile development community in the world, according to Brad Brockhaug, senior director of business development and channels at Forum Nokia.

Members of Forum Nokia Enterprise Zone will be given "exclusive" technical support and advanced looks at Nokia's product road map in order to develop more targeted applications for the enterprise on handsets, Brockhaug said.