Sun, Openwave ‘Bridge’ Java Mobility

Sun Microsystems today announced a technology partnership with Openwave Systems, bringing together two of the biggest kids in the mobile applications development sandbox.

Under terms of the agreement, both companies will offer a software development toolkit (SDK) that combines Openwave’s XML-based scripted MIDAS development technology with Sun’s Java technology and Java Micro Edition (ME) software.

This will allow developers and carriers to create a new generation of mobile applications by providing a pathway to move beyond standards that are based on simple scripting and markup languages into full XML-compatible programs, said Eric Chu, Sun’s senior director of the Client Systems Group and head of its Java ME initiatives.

The SDK will include Sun’s NetBeans integrated development environment (IDE), which provides a modular building block approach to window, menu and file access programming routines.

The SDK, scheduled for initial release in the second half of this year, will also provide interim support for the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Compound Document Framework (CDF), a proposed specification for viewing documents that are created in multiple XML formats that specifically target multimedia and online material.

Member companies of the W3C are still thrashing out details of the specification, although Sun is offering an intermediate “bridge” that allows full integration with a single development environment, said Chu.

“This will dramatically elevate the types of applications people can do by allowing people who have been restricted to one set of standards doing markup and scripting to now to do more powerful programming logic,” said Chu, noting that earlier tools were interesting but could not effectively be used to build integrated music libraries or sophisticated mobile shopping applications.

Building this bridge, as well as the technology agreement with Openwave, signals Sun’s push toward partnered solutions and new products in the mobile space, said Chu, who declined to elaborate on who might be the next potential partner or which products are coming down the pipeline.

Both Sun and Openwave have a substantial footprint in the mobile industry in terms of installed base. There are more than a billion Java-enabled phones in operation and roughly 4.5 million developers worldwide.

Seventy percent to 80 percent of the GSM phones are also equipped with Java, said Chu.

Openwave’ Mobile Browser software is also licensed by more than 51 device manufacturers, representing more than 600 phone platforms and well over a billion handsets, according to the company.

As part of the agreement, Openwave will join the W3C CDF working group to provide support for emerging CDF standards. The company will also take part in an expert group, proposed to the W3C by Sun that will address and promote interoperability between Java technologies and the CDF standard.

Sun has been a leading proponent and contributor to the W3C CDF project since its inception in October 2004.

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