Despite the growing challenge of optimising applications for individual Java implementations, Sun’s platform remains the clear choice for developers seeking mass market adoption. While open OS smartphone volumes are rising rapidly, Java’s overwhelming penetration of low- and mid-range handsets makes it the obvious platform for delivering applications to a mass audience.
Third party developers typically pursue a strategy of demonstrating and proving their application on Symbian OS (usually Series 60) handsets, before expanding to Windows Mobile, Java and BREW. Opera, for instance, has offered a Symbian OS version of its browser for some time, expanding over time to support Windows Mobile, Linux, BREW and a range of embedded OS. In the last few days it has announced Opera Mini, a Java version of its popular application aimed at bring genuine web browsing to a larger audience.
Cognima, which provides seamless data replication technology for sharing photos and other information between handsets and an online repository, has adopted a similar strategy. It has offered support for Symbian Series 60 for some time, but recently expanded its portfolio to include a Java client.
Developers often opt to target a smartphone OS first for several reasons: integration with the advanced features of a handset is usually easier, greater marketing support is available from the OS platform providers and the target market is perceived as being more open to using third party applications. One of the key barriers to Java development is the fragmentation of the platform, which often requires several implementations of an application to be developed for different handsets. For smaller developers this can be prohibitively expensive.
This problem is not lost on Sun and its partners in the operator and handset manufacturer communities. Significant progress was made last month when Vodafone announced that it would join the Java Verified programme, a standardised certification process supported by Sun and most major handset manufacturers. In future Vodafone will require all Java applications on Vodafone Live to pass the certification.
Guy Laurence, Global Terminals and Consumer Marketing Director,
Vodafone Group, said: “Vodafone has already stated its commitment to
reducing fragmentation in the mobile content value chain. Our advocacy
of the Java Verified Program further demonstrates that commitment by
helping lead the industry towards a standard approach to testing. A
single testing process ensures that developers can now more easily
reach out to the millions of Vodafone Live! customers worldwide, with
significantly reduced time-to-market.”
SurfKitchen, Action Engine, Vodafone, Cognima, Symbian and Nokia are all speaking at MEX: The PMN Mobile User Experience conference.