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Nokia, Vodafone to Drive Mobile Java

Wireless players Nokia and Vodafone are teaming up to write the next chapter (of code) in the mobile Java story.

The companies said they are working through the Java Community Process (JCP) in order to simplify mobile Java standards. The goal is to help content and data move from one Java-enabled mobile device to another, without bumping into proprietary standards. The project includes defining next generation mobile Java services architecture specifications.

The initiative builds on the widely adopted Java Technology for the Wireless Industry (JTWI) specification and takes steps to align the Connected Device Configuration (CDC) platform and the limited CLDC specifications under a simplified licensing structure. With the standards in line, the companies said the changes should improve the mobile value chain between leading mobile device manufacturers, mobile operators and IT companies.

The project has the blessing of Java guardian Sun Microsystems , which is developing the underlying Technology Compatibility Kits and Reference Implementations for these new specifications. Sun acknowledged that it had the vision to create mobile Java standards but not necessarily the wherewithal to push them forward.

"This is the second pass at tying together these various JSRs that address mobile Java," Eric Chu, Sun director of J2ME marketing, told internetnews.com. "Java has been successful in the mobile market and we're excited that Nokia and Vodafone are taking the lead on this project. Sun has been building communities and all of us will be working on the same goal."

The initiative was spawned earlier this month when the J2ME Executive Committee approved the first Java Specification Requests (JSRs) (248 and 249). Nokia and Vodafone said they would avoid introducing any new API specifications. Instead they will tie together new component JSRs and clarifications to existing specifications to define a consistent Java API services architecture. Chu added that there are nearly 200 mobile specifications to weed through, but the end result will be a roadmap that lets manufacturers know things like how many threads their handsets must support or that it takes a certain amount of memory to run next generation applications.

"The mobile industry is aware of the need for standardization and a lot of work has been undertaken towards achieving that aim," Alan Harper, group strategy director at Vodafone, said in a statement. "[This will] create an open and evolving platform roadmap to enable consistent and predictable implementation on a wide range of mobile devices."

Orange, Siemens, Sony Ericsson, and T-Mobile have thrown their support behind the initiative. Several are expected to join the cause and become members of the Expert Group.

"With the support of leading industry players in the mobile Java value-chain, this initiative should offer greater consistency and continuity to developers and end-users," John Jackson, a senior analyst with the Yankee Group said. "It's a significant step toward accelerating the development and distribution of more robust mobile applications."

Whatever the team comes up with, everyone agrees that it must be aligned and coordinated with the various wireless organizations such as the OSGi Alliance, the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA), the Open Mobile Terminal Platform (OMTP) and World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The specifications are expected to offer smooth backward compatibility with the highly successful MIDP environment.