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A New Focus on J2ME Compliance

Sun Microsystems Tuesday announced it will work with the world's leading cellular phone manufacturers on common testing criteria to certify compliance with the J2ME with support for the Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP) 2.0 specification .

Over the course of a two-month period, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based networking computer company worked with officials from Nokia , Motorola , Siemens and Sony Ericsson to develop the common testing criteria to certify compliance to the J2ME standard. While players like Nokia were quick to leverage the spotlight of the JavaOne conference in San Francisco here by announcing its new Developer's Suite for J2ME, Version 2.0, the common testing criteria means developers won't be locked into any single development platform.

"That's a key point is that developers now have choice," said Greg Wolff, group manager at Sun's Carrier Solutions and Content Programs.

The announcement comes is part of Sun's major marketing effort to bring Java into the forefront of consumer branding. Company officials confirmed that Sun and its Java partners will spend more than $500 million on "Java Powered" advertising featuring pop star Christina Aguilera.

"We're extremely happy that these five companies are coming together to simplify the process for the developers, which will simplify and contribute to even more and compelling Java applications getting to consumer devices," said Juan Dewar, senior director of Sun's Consumer Mobility and Strategic Solutions Group.

"We've been at it for 3 to 4 years," Dewar said of Sun's consumer efforts. "We have been developing and licensing a range of Java technologies into consumer devices for 3 to 4 years. The objective is to ensure an open end-to-end mobile computing platform that doesn't lock the world in."

Sun's success with unifying the wireless community stands as an interesting juxtaposition compared with its difficulties in maintaining a cohesive community in the enterprise IT space. Several companies like IBM, Oracle, BEA Systems have tried to usurp Sun's authority in controlling the Java specification. So much so that Sun had to streamline the Java Community Process (JCP) a few weeks ago to fend off criticism that Java as a standard was becoming more fragmented partly due to a very complicated and confusing approval process for specs.

But as Dewar explained, the wireless sector is very different compared to enterprise IT because while competition is fierce, industry participants are familiar with working together on some levels.

"We are happy to see the coherence... all these companies have to work together," Dewar said adding Sun will continue to do its part to police strict compliance with the J2ME specs.

Still, serving as a reminder that APIs always risk the possibility of wandering astray, Dewar acknowledged that the testing certification is only for the cell equipment manufacturers. System operators or carriers still can use any flavor of Java that is available on the market.

To be sure, Dewar does market Java solutions to the carriers as well and emphasized that carriers are increasingly turning to Java-downloaded applications to drive future growth. "Carriers are seeing the voice revenue and SMS [short-messaging service] revenue starting to stabilize. Carriers are looking to Java for growth," the Sun exec told internetnews.com in a telephone interview.

"By the end of month, there will be 100 million Java-enabled phones will have been shipped," he said. "We're getting more aggressive with the advertising and marketing."