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Sun's JavaPhone Could Beat Apple To The iPhone Punch

Seems like everybody wants to get in on the "I've got a better smartphone" party. The "best press coverage for something that doesn't exist award" goes to Apple, which has earned plaudits for its iPhone, even though there's a big question mark as to how well the thing will work. Now Sun has struck back.
Seems like everybody wants to get in on the "I've got a better smartphone" party. The "best press coverage for something that doesn't exist award" goes to Apple, which has earned plaudits for its iPhone, even though there's a big question mark as to how well the thing will work. Now Sun has struck back.The Sun offering, which is also more of a prototype than a real, live working gadget you can grab at your local Sprint or Verizon store, looks "very similar to the Apple iPhone," EETimes' Rick Merritt reports from the JavaOne Conference. Indeed, Rick is calling it a "jPhone." (Lest you think Rick may have been projecting, SysCon's Bill Roth also thinks it looks iPhone-like.)

Much more important than the prototype phone, which was shown on the JavaOne stage by Rich Green, executive VP of Sun's software group, is the software behind the prototype. That software is called JavaFX Mobile, and, far from being vaporware, it's here today and is something Sun is going to be making available to its customers.

Sun has no licenses for the code yet, Merritt reports in his story, but it says it is in conversations with handset makers and "hopes to see cell phones using the software ship in early 2008."

Two things jump out at me here. First, this development will pump up interest in Java and could lead to a new round of media hype, the likes of which we haven't seen since Java chips were the "next big thing" in the late 1990s. (They never took off.)

More importantly, Sun is a serious player in cell phone software, with a deep background of experience. Its Java Mobile software has long been used on the Nokia Series 60 platform. (Though I note that The Inquirer reports that Sun's jPhone software is based on intellectual property it acquired from a company called SavaJe. Still, I'd make the argument that there are no people better than Sun's engineers to know what to do with this stuff.)

What's Apple's cell phone experience? You know the answer to that one, which is why the "real" iPhone may end up to be the "jPhone."