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IBM Looks For Web 2.0 Mobile Play With Sprint

IBM may not be a name you immediately associate with mobile devices, but don't be fooled. The computer giant is gearing up to help developers bring mashups , social networks and other Web 2.0 applications to mobile devices.

To that end, IBM (NYSE:IBM) said Sprint (NYSE:S) is releasing a beta version of its software platform that's based on IBM's Lotus Expeditor software. IBM said Titan will be pre-installed on certain new phones that Sprint will be shipping later this year. Meanwhile, the beta version can be downloaded today for use on most Sprint Windows Mobile smartphones. IBM also said it's looking at supporting other mobile devices as well.

"The key value proposition here is that we're making it easy for developers to leverage a ton of off-the-shelf Eclipse plug-ins for the desktop and bring it to mobile devices," Bharti Patel, director of client platforms at IBM, told InternetNews.com. As an example, she said it would require about 40 lines of code for a developer to integrate (or mashup) YouTube or Google Maps with another mobile application using Titan.

Patel said developers have already used early versions of Titan to create CRM , sales force automation and other business applications for mobile platforms.

Roger Kay, analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates, called it a blurring of the division between desktop and mobile applications, or those designed for specific devices, as more applications are developed for "the cloud" or as a Software as a Service .

"But that's a long way away," Kay told InternetNews.com. "For now, these kinds of specific tools will be useful, particularly if the user can access information on the mobile device in a way very similar or consistent to what they're used to on the desktop. That's where things are headed."

The Lotus Expeditor software also enables delivery of software updates to the mobile device without interruption. For example, you could receive an update while continuing to do instant messaging much as you would on desktop or notebook computer.

Lotus Expeditor is the underlying platform for IBM's collaboration products including IBM Lotus Notes e-mail, Lotus Sametime instant messaging and Lotus Symphony the company's free suite of office productivity programs.

Tom Moore, director of mobile business solutions at Sprint, said his company is intentionally blurring the lines between desktop and mobile development and allowing developers to easily move their applications to the mobile environment.

"To make it easy for business developers, we're doing it in conjunction with the Eclipse development tools that application developers are already using," Moore said in a statement. "This accelerates the delivery of new services and capabilities to our customers."

Last October, the Eclipse Foundation released its Eclipse Rich Ajax Platform (RAP) 1.0 application, which makes the Eclipse plug in model available to Web developers. RAP is a subset of the Eclipse RCP (Rich Client Platform) project, which enables cross platform desktop application deployment.