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Java to fuel wireless devices
(IDG) -- Motorola will support Sun Microsystems' Java technology in virtually all of its wireless products by 2002, allowing developers to create a wide range of Internet-based applications for commerce, entertainment, and communications, Motorola Chairman and CEO Chris Galvin said here Thursday at Sun's JavaOne show.
Motorola will use Sun's Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition, in phones, pagers, and other products still under development, part of an effort to use the power of the Internet to bring new voice and data capabilities to all of its products, Galvin said.
"When people ask me what Motorola is all about these days, I say it's taking the Internet and putting it into your purse, your pocket, your car, your public-safety two-way radio, and someday your refrigerator," Galvin said.
The Motorola chief showed a prototype of a new communications device about the size of a playing card that featured a small color screen and a miniature punch-button keyboard. Programs on the device include e-mail, two-way text messaging, a contact database, and other information management programs. By plugging in a headset, the device also can be used as a digital wireless phone, a Motorola engineer said.
Motorola hopes to ship the device in Europe by the end of the year and in the United States in the first quarter of 2001. It will support the GSM (Global System for Mobile) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) communications standards. Eventually, Motorola will add support for Java2ME, allowing developers to create compelling applications, Galvin said.
Judging by demonstrations given here, the applications could include miniaturized versions of computer games, e-commerce, and voice- and text-messaging services. They will make use of emerging technologies such as speech and handwriting recognition.
Galvin also showed off a Java-enabled cellular phone developed in collaboration with Sega Enterprises that included computer games programmed in Java.
The first Motorola phone to include Java and be able to run games from Sega is expected to go on sale in the United States in the first half of 2001, a Sega spokeswoman said earlier this week. The company is prepared to work with other phone makers also, including Nokia and L.M. Ericsson Telephone, she said.
Motorola's commitment to use Java in all of its wireless devices is a significant win for Sun, which is trying to promote its programming language as a de facto standard for writing applications that will run on virtually any computerized device. Java is an important ingredient because it provides the "glue" that allow developers to write programs with the knowledge that they will run on all types of hardware, Galvin said.
If Java gets fragmented, however, "it simply won't work," Galvin warned. Developing wireless products in the United States is tough enough already, he said, given the multitude of wireless communications standards that exist here. Cellular use is more widespread in Europe and in Japan, in part because those regions adhere to a single, common communications standard.
There are currently about 470 million wireless devices in use the world over and about 260 million Internet users, according to Motorola. "We see the opportunity to bring these [markets] together and have a billion wireless Internet users in the next two to three years," Galvin said.
"Humans have an absolute, insatiable desire to communicate," Galvin said.
The JavaOne show concludes Friday. More information about the show, including Webcasts of this week's keynotes, is on Sun's Java Web site.
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