July 14, 2005 12:20 PM PDT

'Write once, run anywhere' not working for phones

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When it was first introduced, Sun Microsystems' Java software for cellular phones was supposed to let developers write a single program that could run on any handset.

A half decade later, Sun's Java for cell phones, called the mobile information device profile, or MIDP, is used in half the world's 1.4 billion phones for downloading other bits of software. But writing a program that can run on any handset still isn't possible.

It's an odd by-product of Java's success in the cell phone market. Ironing out the details of software such as the MIDP takes time, and neither the cell phone makers nor service providers have been willing to wait as they pump out the 700 million or so cell phones sold each year.

News.context

What's new:
Sun's Java for cell phones was supposed to let developers write a single program that could run on any handset. That's never come to pass.

Bottom line:
It's becoming clear to Sun engineers that the ultimate goal of "write once, run anywhere" may never be fully realized because the cell phone market is simply too diverse. Still, Java has helped the industry make tremendous strides.

More stories about Java

Instead, Nokia, Motorola and other handset makers have built devices using their own fixes for MIDP.

Though that's understandable, since they have to deal with the immediate needs of the market, their actions have played a major role in sullying the "write once, run anywhere" promise of MIDP, say Sun executives and developers of cell phone software. That means that the extra costs and development time associated with creating multiple versions of the same software find their way into nearly every corner of the cell phone industry, from the price of handsets to the price for downloading a ring tone.

"Fragmentation is the one major roadblock that could mean the difference between success and failure for developers embracing this market," Allen Lau, chief technology officer at Tira Wireless, wrote in an article in the trade publication Java World.

What was billed as an oasis for developers has turned into quicksand, quipped developers attending Sun's recent JavaOne confab in San Francisco. None were louder than representatives of Nokia, which sells about a third of the world's cell phones, nearly every one with Java inside.

"Defragmentation remains a major issue," Nokia Chief Technology Officer Pertti Korhonen said during a recent speech to Java developers. "We need to reduce the fragmentation effect because interoperability is critical for today's mass market devices. We need to simplify the standard, and use open, fair and predictable licensing terms for the technology."

Though the cell phone industry has made tremendous strides in the last two years, it's becoming clear to engineers at Sun that the ultimate goal of "write once, run anywhere" may never be fully realized because the cell phone market is simply too diverse, said Eric Chu, a Sun senior director who played a role in much of the early MIDP development.

Sun's efforts to end the fragmentation problems have so far come up short. Just about every year the company has had another way to attack the problem. The latest attempt involves the Java Verified program, which was created several months ago to certify cell phone software and ensure that it runs on different companies' phones.

It's a radical change from past practices, when applications had to be tested by each handset maker in order to ensure the coding was bug-free and at a certain quality level. But it's too early to say how well the new program is working.

Great promise, mixed results
The MIDP standard, based on Java 2 Micro Edition, or J2ME, was developed collaboratively by Sun and more than 20 cell phone companies. The goal was to provide the cell phone industry with a

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JAVA Games Are S~L~O~W
No wonder this industry never makes money :)
Posted by 201293546946733175101343322673 (722 comments )
Reply Link Flag
AmigaAnywhere, covers where Java fails
This sounds like the solution 2 me. <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.amiga.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.amiga.com</a>

AmigaAnywhere" is the digital environment that enables and simplifies the access of same content from any device - anywhere. The engine enables rich, graphical, high-performance, premium sound applications across entertainment devices ranging from handhelds to set-top boxes.

AmigaAnywhere" currently targets the following platforms: PCs, Set-Top Boxs, PDAs, SmartPhones, Other Devices.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Sad
I used to love the Amiga. I still have to A500s that I drag out occasionally. It is a shame that the Amiga name has become so fragmented and it is hard to be sure what it stands for now. (Just like Atari.)
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
Link Flag
Two lines taken....
... from an Amiga web page, which then fails to provide any serious
examples of cross platform utility. I'm with Andy. AmigaAnywhere
appears to be nothing more than some of the ashes of a once
pretty good computer company.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
The article is off base
Its really easy to point at "Java" as being the problem.

Java significantly reduces the overhead of making software work on these devices. It isn't perfect because the manufacturers have to cut corners in hardware to keep costs down.

Write software in C++ or C and this task will be almost insurmountable.

MIDP is also improving dramatically with many of the ommissions in the first version now present, and no doubt version 3 will be better still
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Was Java ever?
Was Java ever "write once run anywhere"?

On desktop it wasn't ever so. Check as an example LimeWire: all major OSs have specialized version. And there is one generic version. Integration with OS is the key. Java integrates with nothing - it is OS on its own and, may I add, quite dumb one. (*)

And this collapse of "write once - run somewhere" hit me too: I wanted to use some application on my iBook, when it turns out that it requires Java 1.5 and Java 1.5 has new version of bytecode so it will (most likely) never ever run on my iBook equipped with Java 1.4. Sun's JRE doesn't support Mac OS X. Apple going to release Java 1.5 only for Max OS X Tiger, but not for Panther. Go figure who to blame: Sun for its overbloated technology; Apple which has no resources to port another great bloatware from Sun to all OS it supports; or application developers who had fallen into "Java Trap" (c) RMS.

Thru all the hype Sun had created, I do not see any good use to Java. On desktop side it is just unusable. On embedded it is just too bloated and slow. Well, on server side people like it. But only with application servers (middleware) - most of other applications run much better under specialized systems. Biggest server use case - Web - seems definitely to like PHP more than Java.

So as for me, Java is niche technology.

(*) For good example of disintegration with OS look at Eclipse project. They have to implement most things on their own. And they were never "write once" - Eclipse tries to use OS capabilities where possible. But it seems to be case not often. Another failure a-la GNU/Emacs: everything is possible you just need to find proper sequence of changing proper properties.
Posted by Philips (400 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Actually, there is a solution, but it is not Java.
Ihar Filipau in "Was Java ever?" portrays the situation quite vividly. There has been a great solution, though.

Z++ is a superset of C++, i.e. contains the entire C++ as a rather small subset. Yet, the entire language is identically supported for all platforms by a 300K virtual processor that fits in a watch, let alone a cell phone.

Yes, "write once, run anywhere" is possible, even with the fast pace of phone upgrades.

Regards,
Dr. Z.
Chief Scientist
zorabi@ZHMicro.com
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.zhmicro.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.zhmicro.com</a>
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://distributed-software.blogspot.com" target="_newWindow">http://distributed-software.blogspot.com</a>
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
You are Correct - sort of!
Yes Java was not totally write once - run every where - and yes J2ME is write once port everywhere - but lets not forget that there are more J2ME Phones than PCs out there and nobody is taking advantage of this. My solution is a product called appsforphones that whilst not eliminating the problem, it minimizes it - it also lets basic developers create J2ME applications - check it out
Posted by MikeGB (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Brand new unlcok Nokia N95 at $350
globalphones1999@yahoo.co.uk globalphones1999@yahoo.co.uk

globalphones1999@yahoo.co.uk

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globalphones1999@yahoo.co.uk globalphones1999@yahoo.co.uk

globalphones1999@yahoo.co.uk globalphones1999@yahoo.co.uk
Posted by globalphones1999 (8 comments )
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