Sun Always Shines on MID P

Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) says its impending upgrade of the mobile Java (J2ME) MID P device profile will address some of the handset compatibility problems recently highlighted by Unstrung (see Write Once, Run Nowhere?).

Developers had noted that proprietary extensions added to the J2ME profile break the "write once, run anywhere" credo of Java, meaning applications need to be adjusted for different handsets.

However, Sun says the MID P version 2 code, unveiled at its JavaOne conference in Yokohama, Japan, will incorporate support for additional graphical capabilities and different handset screen sizes -- making many of the proprietary tweaks part of the official spec.

"MID P 2.0 sweeps in many of the extensions that were out there," says David Harrah, a software manager at Sun. "That's not to say it will eliminate the extension situation, but the handset manufacturers realize it has got out of control."

This echoes what Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) told us recently when it said it was talking to other handset manufacturers about providing more standardized Java phones (see Motorola's Java Harmony). But even as it was talking standards, the vendor agreed that it probably wouldn't be able to resist a little tweak to the specification if that gave it a competitive advantage.

Sun says it expects the MID P 2.0 code to become generally available early next year.

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung
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