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Sun Rises On Wireless Web Standards

Sun Microsystems officials announced their "unified" wireless Web services platform Monday morning to a crowd of eager attendees.

Sun developed the Java 2 platform, micro edition (J2ME), last year as a boiled down version of its J2EE framework for enterprise networks, putting real-time Web services in the hands of corporations and online firms. The wireless framework will conceivably allow customers using wireless digital phones to do everything from watch TV to manage their databases.

Java specification request (JSR) #172 is the standard behind Sun's new wireless vision, and has the support of software giants like Borland , Research in Motion , Nokia , Motorola and Oracle .

The specification bundles Sun's Forte for Java wireless kit and numerous application program interfaces (APIs). APIs are building blocks, helping developers write applications for specific operating systems to ensure portability.

The Java community process (JCP) executive committee is expected to issue a final ruling on the JSR in the summer of 2003.

Rich Green, Sun vice president and general manager of Java and extensible markup language (XML) software, said companies are looking for an open and robust technology to fall behind.

"Sun, in conjunction with the JCP program, is leading this effort to ensure the industry will receive Web services standards in a timely fashion," he said. "The wireless consumer device market is, without question, an area of development where significant opportunities lie for the developer."

Until recently, Sun has been mum on its specific wireless Web services vision, but experts believe that by the end of the day, that vision will be more clearly defined. Standards for the J2ME have been around for nearly a year and open the door to a host of applications in the wireless world previously unknown.

At least initially, the Web service framework ruled by Microsoft Corp., .Net, has been winning the publicity battle in the Web services war. Sun, on the other hand, has remained relatively low-key, building consensus within the J2EE community.

But, as the popularity of Web services reaches critical mass, the need for a "coming out" party was needed.

According to a report by analysts at IDC, Web services will become a multi-billion industry within the next 10 years. According to the report, "IDC believes how services firms position themselves for Web services today will significantly affect their long-term ability to capitalize on this market opportunity. Patricia Sueltz, Sun software systems group executive vice president, said its a combination of good technology and open standards that make J2EE and J2ME a hit with developers.

"Java technology has established itself as the platform of choice for developing Web services through a combination of platform independence, open XML based interfaces, an inherently secure architecture, and a collaborative community-based process for expanding the technology to address new needs and markets," she said.

To date, a wireless phone's programs and functions were limited to what the carrier thought people wanted. Now, corporations can marry up their own universal description, discovery and integration (UDDI) libraries with wireless phones to provide a host of applications.

Nextel Communications , took the first shot of the day, announcing early Monday the launch of its mobile application manager, which lets Nextel customers manage and distribute their own Web service tools.

Also announced Monday was Motorola's download server for enterprise, a similar Java-based wireless Web service to Nextel's product.

Mike Bordelon, Motorola Internet software and content group corporate vice president and general manager, said the new download server for wireless phones is the next stage in evolution for Motorola's existing phone applications.

"The launch of the J2ME Download Server by Motorola showcases our commitment to creating an expansive J2ME application library, as well as the products that will support them,'' he said. "With the launch of this server, Motorola can build on the strengths of its past commercial deployments and its existing infrastructure to support the largest number of active users in North America."