In-Depth

Mobile Java: The Power of Millions

With more development for mobile devices than PCs, now's the time to expand the network and capitalize on your investments, said Nokia CTO Pertti Korhonen in his keynote address at JavaOne.

Pertti Korhonen wants to put the server in your pocket.

"We can extend the power of the network by putting Java in every pocket," said Korhonen, senior vice president and CTO of Nokia, in his Wednesday keynote address at JavaOne. "The question and challenge is: Will mobile Java be part of your core business?"

Nokia dreams big. With 300 million devices sold by the end of this year—about a third of the market—it can afford to. Korhonen, and the rest of the industry, thinks about how to defragment a market that now has 635 models and expects by the end of 2006 to ship a billion units that deploy multiple languages, geographic locations, and operating systems, among other futuristic-sounding endeavors (also see Jim Fawcette's blog post on FTPOnline, "Semantic Web, Metadata Key to Next Gen Mobiles," June 21, 2005).

How to do that? The key is to create a consistent Java environment across platforms. Korhonen says that next-generation mobile Java is driving mobile Java standards.

"Industry collaboration will defragment Java, and we'll do that through Mobile Service Architecture, which is a means to simplify standards. This architecture has great support across the industry, because it ensures that everyone will have rich applications and that the licensing terms are open, fair, and predictable," he said.

How will it work? Two ways, Korhonen says—through interoperability for major mass-market players and extensibility for devices. This first will be accomplished through JSR 248 (now in draft form, with the spec due later this year), which seeks to establish standards to reduce fragmentation. It will support new JSRs that support Web services, security, graphics, and other functionality. JSR 249, which could be completed by early 2006, reflects tomorrow's opportunity for device management, beginning with application migration and using such applications as HP OpenView to manage devices.

"Tomorrow's apps must run in today's devices," Korhonen said. "Devices will be extensible and manageable. Devices will continue to expand once they leave the factory and will be as easy to support as desktops. Today's successful Java mobile market will end fragmentation today and add extensibility tomorrow."

Nokia's offerings are already rich. Today's Series 40 includes an expanded range of APIs, including 3-D graphics, location information, and more, and it supports network connectivity by synchronization. MIDP 2.0 functionality, usually associated with games, is used in instant messaging, chat, and e-mail applications. SNAP Mobile APIs are included in Sun's wireless toolkit; this functionality offers an end-to-end J2ME solution and offers opportunity for enabled multiplayer gaming.

Series 60 offers a richer environment, and the next cycle will include Connected Device Configuration (CDC) 1.1. Previously, when a device left the factory, there was no capability to take advantage of new JSR functionalities. You were limited to the current device portfolio. Now, Nokia wants to support post-deployment customization and extensibility. With CDC 1.1, there are no new APIs and developers will still write an MIDP without changing their code.

"The management capabilities allow mobile operators to send software updates to phones after they have been distributed, monitor hardware resources, and troubleshoot problems remotely," said Jon Bostrom, Nokia's senior director of java technology platforms. "What we're really doing is bringing the middleware environment that has been so successful on servers into mobile clients."

"SOA has led on the server side, but now we are working on a client solution," Korhonen said. "There is a huge implication for the enterprise. We make it easy to write MIDlets to create rich applications. Mobile becomes part of the network—you get the same power of the network on your mobile device."

"The focus is on power, manageability, and developability to extend, customize, manage, control, and develop in a straightforward way," said Bostrom, "We want to create an infrastructure that lets you create better apps. Middleware on the client—now you can write on both ends, the client and the server, so developers can take advantage of client-side development. This is supported by JSR 232 and coordinated with OSGi."

Bostrom said next-generation mobile Java tools will include the Eclipse IDE, the Nokia Development Suite, and Nokia prototype emulator. The new application or service template builds infrastructure. "From imagination to reality, we need community to support 232. Our plan is to make tools and the SDK available in the near future. It's very gratifying to see developers as excited as we are."

IBM is getting into the act, too. Craig Hayman, VP of IBM Software Group Development, told the crowd that IBM is bringing WebSphere to phones for field service employees such as meter readers, insurance adjustors, or train conductors. "In the old days, it took six to nine months to deploy an application to a field workforce," he said. "But this is the life expectancy of a device. We realized that we need to accelerate the build, run, and management lifecycle of apps."

Hayman said that OSGi is core. "What makes it work is its concept of bundles," he said. Device and network conditions demand an adaptable environment. In his example using Workplace Client Technology, Micro Edition, updates to the server can be messaged back to the device using SOA technology. The same components work on the desktop so the employee can also use a laptop for updates.

"Starting with OSGi, technology for bundling, and layering on components, we have the capability for running applications for mobile to the enterprise," he said.

Together with the announcement of the Exchange 2003 Service Pack 2 and Messaging and Security Feature Pack for Windows Mobile 5 earlier this month at Microsoft's Tech•Ed conference (read "Faster .NET 2.0, New Service Pack for Exchange," by Jim Minatel, FTPOnline, June 6, 2005), Korhonen echoes the industry-wide sentiment that mobile development is key to moving the industry forward.

"The power of Java everywhere is the story of JavaOne, and the power of mobile Java is the headline," Korhonen said. "Right now there is more mobile development with Java than on PCs. Mobile Java is a massive opportunity to build your business, and it's key to extending your investments. It's time to put the server in your pocket."

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