Nokia and Vodafone to lead mobile Java standards

There is a lot of effort being applied by the mobile phone industry to unification and the current round is the attempt to unify Java on mobiles. The two currently largest players, Nokia and Vodafone, today announced the formation of a “mobile service architecture initiative” that will bring “open unified mobile Java services architecture”.

Software developers currently have major headaches when trying to develop software that will run on the handsets of different manufacturers, leading to many version of the same programme having to be written.

The central tenet of the Vodafone/Nokia idea is to actually bring the once-touted but soon forgotten ideal of Java, Write Once Run Anywhere – the ability to write an application and for it to work on any Java-enabled devices. The announcement puts it much less succinctly; “This will enable application compatibility across multi-vendor mobile devices.” Their phrasing also gives them the get out clause of “multi-vendor”, not meaning Anywhere.

It’s not just the two biggest names involved in this, as Orange, Siemens, Sony Ericsson and T-Mobile International have given their support to the idea. As you would expect with anything involving Java, Sun Microsystems are also heavily involved.

One of the areas that is being highlighted are the Security enhancements, which interestingly include the ability to management software components to mobile over-the-air – great for updating functionality, or heaven forbid, fixing bugs.

Alan Harper, Group Strategy Director at Vodafone, said: “It will build upon the JTWI (Java Technology for Wireless Industry) vision, and output from other industry groups, to create an open and evolving platform roadmap to enable consistent and predictable implementation on a wide range of mobile devices.”

Having a near-unified platform to write for can only be good for developers of software applications for mobile phones, and therefore the advancement of the mobile handset as means to access services.

The participants of the initiative have committed to deploy the platform, and the first reference implementations are scheduled for next year.

The continued strength of Java as a development platform for mobile phones is of paramount importance in the mobile industry, providing continued resistance of Windows dominating mobiles as well as computers. To date Microsoft’s attempts at this haven’t been a resounding success.