Companies that use Java applications will soon have another way of reaching their employees or customers. Sprint PCS, the wireless network arm of telecommunications firm Sprint Communications Co., has pledged to support Java 2 Platform Micro Edition (J2ME) on Sprint PCS phones as part of its deployment of its next generation, or 3G, wireless network next summer.
With J2ME support, Sprint PCS hopes to draw the 2.5 million current Java developers worldwide to its 3G networks, which will provide 80-Kbit data streams. Analysts believe Sprint PCS has good reason to hope for some success. Because Java is a standard and flexible programming language, applications built using Java will more likely be able to run on multiple types of cell phones, handhelds, and other mobile devices, says Warren Wilson, an industry analyst with Summit Strategies.
Companies such as Konaware Inc., a provider of software platforms for mobile computing using J2ME, and Wysdom Inc., a mobile application platform provider, say they welcome Sprint PCS's Java support. "It's going to be a huge potential opportunity for us," says Jay Subramaniam, a software developer for Wysdom. "Most of our technologies are based on the Java platform."
Konaware chairman Jim DiSanto foresees a future battle between devices that support J2ME and those that leverage Microsoft .Net, and says he aligns with the Java camp. "Developers have already learned all this stuff and program in this environment," he says.
Analysts predict that Sprint PCS will almost certainly make good on its promise to deliver 3G services next year, and point out that competitor Nextel Communications Inc. already has limited J2ME support in its network. "Sprint has a pretty good track record on such things," says Iain Gillott, a principle with iGillott Research. "Nextel has Java phones from Motorola on the market, and between Sprint and Nextel, you're going to have a pretty good coverage base. IT managers should be planning for packet data service over the Sprint network with 80 Kbps nationwide, and how to make use of it."