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Sun and Symbian strike EPOC Java deal

Momentum grows in the 'stop CE' camp

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Sun and Symbian have announced an as-yet inkless alliance here at Cebit in Hannover to include Java with the Symbian EPOC platform. The expectation is for some 40 and 60 million users of wireless information devices in the next five years, with mobile phones able to reach one-sixth of the world's population by 2005. Symbian licensees (Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia, and Psion) control 70-80 per cent of the world cellphone market. Symbian was formed in 1998 to provide a more united front against Windows CE. Meanwhile, it has emerged that two separate strategic agreements were signed with NTT DoCoMo this week by Symbian and Sun to carry out fundamental research and development in Japan on new wireless communications technologies. It could well be that such devices will prove to be much more attractive to Japanese industry and consumers than PCs. Symbian CEO Colly Myers said that the first devices from the Sun-Symbian relationship are expected before the end of 1999. Psion, the conceiver of the Symbian alliance, said that "Java technologies help address problems of incompatibility, complexity and security across networked appliances, and allow service providers to deploy data content and services to a wide range of wireless information devices." The implication of all this seems to be that Sun has decided that wireless information devices will now be an important strategic direction, with the Symbian partners developing new kinds of devices with better integration of both hardware and software. Technologically, Java will ensure that the approach preserves a multi-platform environment. With the critical mass of this fledgling industry aligned against Microsoft, there is relatively little that Microsoft can do to wrest control of a non-Windows world. Of the big boys, only HP seems to be sticking close to Microsoft with CE. This looks like being one that will get away from Microsoft's deadly embrace. ®

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