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Sun Ships J2ME for Palm OS

Sun Microsystems Inc. Tuesday moved to place its mark on the handheld market with the developer release of Java 2 Platform Micro Edition (J2ME) and the Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP) for the Palm OS platform.

J2ME is intended to address the consumer space, from smart cards and pagers to set-top boxes. Sun describes J2ME as a complete, end-to-end solution for creating state-of-the-art networked products and applications for the consumer and embedded market.

Sun and Palm Inc. will collaborate with other industry experts through the Java Community Process (JCP) program to define a programming interface specification for PDAs.

"Shipping J2ME for Palm OS is a win for the industry because developing with a viable, secure software platform that can span a range of mobile devices allows consumers to utilize the same applications whether it's on a standard phone, a Palm Powered device, or another handheld product," said Curtis Sasaki, director of Technology Advocacy at Sun. "And with a roadmap to the PDA profile, developers will be able to take advantage of many of the advanced features these handheld devices enable."

Sun said the PDA profile will open the way for developers to take advantage of additional features like categories, clipboard support, native fonts, native user interface and exchange manager, among others.

MIDP is a set of Java APIs which, together with the Connected Limited Device Configuration (CLDC), provides a complete J2ME runtime environment for mobile devices like cell phones and two-way pagers. The MIDP specification addresses issues such as user interface, persistence storage, networking and application model. The standard runtime environment provided by the MIDP allows new applications and services to be dynamically deployed on end user devices.

The CLDC outlines the basic set of libraries and Java virtual machine features that must be present in each implementation of the environment.

Sun said the profile was developed by expert groups using Sun's open JCP program. The PDA profile is also being developed through the program.

The JCP is composed of many different companies, all striving to ensure compatibility in the various implementations of the various Java 2 implementations. The J2ME executive committee of the JCP is composed of big players like Sun, Cisco Systems, Motorola, IBM, Nokia, Palm, Sony, and Ericsson, among others.

"With Palm's aggressive push to provide complete business solutions to the enterprise, Palm is responding to the developer community's need for support of Java technology on the Palm OS platform," said Christy Wyatt, director of strategic alliances and market development for Palm. "We are excited that Sun will provide J2ME for end users and developers. We're pleased to be working closely with Sun on the PDA profile that will allow developers to access the additional features and user interface that is the hallmark of the Palm OS platform. We believe the PDA profile will provide developers with the ideal Java technology experience on Palm OS."

But while Sun appears to be aggressively trying to enter the handheld game, the developer of Java is not the first to offer Java tools on the Palm OS. In June, Emwerks released what it claimed was the first full-function Java support for Palm OS-based devices. The company unveiled Kada Java Virtual Machine and Java APIs support for Java-compliant workforce applications, touting that unlike 'micro' Java versions, its product delivered full Java functionality in a small footprint of only 155KB. A week after Emwerks' release, IBM followed with VisualAge Micro Edition 1.1, which includes class libraries, runtime components, a packaging tool, configurable J9 Virtual Machine and a Java-based development environment.

But Nicholas Loraine, senior product manager for Wireless Java APIs at Sun, contends that IBM's VisualAge and Emwerks' Kada offerings don't me