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Mobile Web Services Reign at CTIA

The CTIA Wireless 2004 show in Atlanta this week will play host to a number of wireless technologies, but perhaps none are so popular at this moment than mobile Web services, which Sun Microsystems and the Liberty Alliance will demonstrate.

Sun said that it is working with Research In Motion (RIM) to bring mobile Java Web services to the more than one million customers who use BlackBerry wireless pagers. RIM customers will benefit from using Sun's Java Enterprise System, the companies said in a public statement. Meanwhile, the Sun-founded Liberty Alliance used the platform of the CTIA 2004 conference in Atlanta to demonstrate two new projects based on its Identity Web Services Framework (ID-WSF).

Web services , which allow applications to talk to one another to perform such tasks as conducting electronic business, is still gaining momentum despite a slew of standards that have yet to be fully realized. The idea of mobile Web services is that customers can shop or conduct business securely using a Java or .NET-based Web-enabled phone.

Should this model for Web services be perfected, it would result in millions of dollars of business conducted via phones and other handheld devices each year, making it a lucrative industry in the consumer and enterprise markets. While rival IBM looks to push Java in the enterprise, Sun has been quick to tout the advantages of using a Java-enabled phone to perform several tasks using Web services.

To wit, Sun and RIM said they expect their pact will help expand mobile data services in networked applications and extend their reach into enterprise markets. The companies will work closely to help developers and software vendors create mobile enterprise applications with the Java technology and Web services platform (JSR 172).

This latest addition to the J2ME platform complies with the specifications of the Web Services Interoperability Organization and allows mobile devices to access Web services using XML and SOAP . It is available through Sun's Smartphones HotSpot Implementation (HI) and the J2ME Wireless Toolkit.

The companies said in their statement that eAgency, a wireless CRM provider, is basing its communication and customer support systems for the insurance industry on the SUN-RIM pact. Specifically, eAgency has extended its suite of CRM business applications for the remote mobile user by using Blackberry e-mail infrastructure and Sun hardware and the Solaris 9 operating system.

While Liberty Alliance is also demonstrating mobile Web services, albeit in a lighter capacity, security for such services that traverse the Web unbounded has been such a big obstacle to widespread adoption to date. Groups like the Liberty Alliance, OASIS and top software vendors such as Microsoft and IBM have been working to shore up the infrastructure.

In one demo using the Identity Web Services Framework (ID-WSF), phone maker Nokia and software maker Trustgenix will demonstrate a Nokia mobile handset offering AOL's radio service to show how the service provider is employing Liberty's authentication, discovery, permissions-based attribute sharing and security features. Simply, users will be able to securely access and customize the Radio@AOL service using a mobile phone.

Telecommunications giant Vodafone is also tabbing Liberty's ID-WSF in a security demo. Using a multiplayer mobile gaming schema crafted by Trustgenix and Gamefederation a user can discover a game site over Vodafone's network, access it and personalize it.

"An identity-aware framework allows communities, such as those in the mobile and gaming industry, to provide highly personalized and attractive services while improving usability of the service at the same time. The Liberty-enabled pilots show how the whole ecosystem supports Web services, including mobile devices," said Timo Skytta, vice president of Liberty Alliance and senior manager at Nokia. in a public statement.