Insignia strikes Palm OS Mobile Java deal

Path clearing

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Insignia Solutions Inc has sealed a lucrative deal to work with PalmSource Inc to create a standard Java interface for Palm OS-powered devices.

Although Insignia would not reveal the value of the arrangement, the deal will see the Fremont, California-based mobile Java specialist's Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME) implementation become the preferred mobile Java environment for the newly released 32-bit Palm OS 5.

This opens the door for Insignia's technology to appear on devices from PalmSource parent, Palm Inc, as well as Palm OS licensees such as Handspring, Sony, Samsung, Kyocera and Symbol Technologies.

Peter Baldwin, executive VP operations with Insignia, said the deal also clears the way for the creation of a unified PDA development environment, independent of any underlying operating system, be it Palm OS, Symbian OS or Microsoft Pocket PC.

PDA-based J2ME utilizes the recently released PDA device profile (PDAP) rather than the more limited mobile information device profile (MIDP) used in Java- powered mobile phones.

At present, only a small proportion of Java developers are working with mobile Java, although this is likely to increase as J2ME-enabled devices become more widespread. And this is likely to increase as the technology advances.

According to Baldwin, work is currently underway in the Java Community Process (JCP) to further enhance the J2ME environment with multimedia and 3D engines, with other advanced APIs to follow.

These developments could, in theory, make J2ME (or its descendents) a viable platform in its own right for the kinds of rich applications that are currently limited to the much "fatter" device platforms mentioned above.

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