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Sun, HP Partner on Java ME for Smartphones

Sun Microsystems is looking to reduce the fragmentation of Java Platform Micro Edition Java ME) and its first step is to offer a compiled binary to Hewlett-Packard for its new HP iPAQ 900 series of Business Messenger smartphones.

Sun Engineering Services handled the development, compile and testing of the Java Wireless Client binaries - Sun's Java ME implementation for wireless handsets -- for the iPaq, working in conjunction with HP to implement a specific feature set.

The Sun Java Wireless Client software integrates with the Windows Mobile 6.1 native user interface, enabling customers to view e-mail in the original HTML format and access contact information, among other features.

Normally, Sun delivers a code base to Java ME licensees, and they do their own development, testing and tuning. However, this has allowed fragmentation to creep into the product line as different cell phone makers introduced their own changes.

By delivering a binary, Sun (NASDAQ: JAVA) kills two birds with one stone; it prevents these fragmentations, and it takes the load off HP, or any other licensee that chooses to undertake a similar effort, freeing the company to focus on its phone.

"What it amounts to is vendors like HP want the Java virtual machine on their platform, but the question is where is their expertise on the phone best spent?" said David Hofert, group marketing manager for Java mobile technology at Sun.

Minimizing fragmentation

"What they have done is handed over to us the duties of optimizing so they spend a lot less time of making Java run well. We in turn can minimize the amount of bugs and fragmentation that get into the phone," he added.

All HP (NYSE: HPQ) has to do is connect the completed VM to its own internal applications. The two companies coordinated their development cycles, sharing builds to insure compatibility along the way and make sure nothing has changed.

"By offering Java on our newest HP iPaq Business Messenger, we are able to deliver a richer, enhanced mobile experience for our customers," said Susan Macke, vice president of marketing for the handheld global business unit at HP in a statement. "The development of the new smartphone and our work with Sun Microsystems reinforces HP's commitment to meeting the growing and varied needs of our mobile users."

Sun is primarily interested in avoiding the fragmentation that has made porting Java ME applications between different smart phones difficult. "We can avoid the fragmentation issue by providing more of a consistent implementation across platforms," Hofert said.

The new HP iPAQ 900 series Business Messenger features Windows Mobile 6.1, wireless technologies like tri-band UMTS/HSDPA, quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It offers mobile e-mail, voice and access to business-critical applications through the Windows and Java interfaces. It will ship at the end of this month.