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More developers are using embedded Java systems to run applications within mobile phones and other mobile devices.

InformationWeek Staff

September 22, 2003

2 Min Read

Embedded Java systems used to run applications within mobile phones and other consumer devices are expected over the next several years to lead competing technology from Microsoft and Qualcomm, a market-research firm said Monday.

The number of mobile phones and other handheld devices that ship with embedded Java to run multimedia applications, such as games, is expected to reach 74.9 million units this year and increase to 601 million units by 2007, Venture Development Corp. said. In comparison, Qualcomm's binary runtime environment for wireless (Brew) technology is expected to be in 8.5 million devices shipped this year. The application development environment runs only on Qualcomm's CDMA, a wireless phone technology with less than 15% of the worldwide cell-phone market, analyst Chris Lanfear said. Microsoft's .Net Compact Framework, on the other hand, has had even less success in the market than Brew. "I know of no devices out there that are using the .Net Compact Framework as an environment," Lanfear said. Although he did not have 2007 unit shipment projections for .Net Compact Framework and Brew, Lanfear said he expected embedded Java to maintain a sizable lead over the next four years. "I expect Java to be the dominant platform for the foreseeable future, and I place 2007 in that foreseeable future," he said. VDC cited several reasons for Java's lead in the market. For one, the technology was introduced for cellular phones earlier than competitors' software and was able to build momentum. In addition, the technology was developed by an industry consortium formed by creator Sun Microsystems, so Java fits in better with the industry's preference for less proprietary software. Adding to the technology's momentum are the many software makers outside of Sun that build and sell products and provide services for embedded Java, which is viewed as solid technology for mobile devices. "There's a whole ecosystem that's developed around Java by companies that won't only license you their technology, but they'll also help you make it work," Lanfear said. "That's quite a bit different from Brew and .Net (Compact Framework), which are very much proprietary technology for Qualcomm and Microsoft, respectively." Despite the number of handsets shipping with Java, carriers haven't yet begun to reap a lot of revenue from multimedia applications running on the platform. "It's easier and cheaper right now to include all this software on the phone, even if the end user doesn't seek the phone out for that reason," Lanfear said. Carriers "want to make sure the end user has as few barriers as possible to using (additional) services (in the future)."

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