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Orange and Vodafone have spent $3m on a useful bargaining chip, by investing in Java phone company SavaJe.

SavaJe is writing a MIDP Java-based platform and says devices will be on the market by the end of the year. The UI reference specifies 220x176 screen devices with no touch screen, an alternative to Nokia's Series 60.

When it launched two years ago, SavaJe also targeted "PDAs, set-top boxes, web-pads, game consoles and internet appliances". Now it's focussed on phones.

The venture arms of Vodafone and Orange have provided the latest top-up: the company has received $29.5 million in funding with the recent Series B round raising $17.5 million.

Danger Inc. has proved that Java phones need not be slow: the Hiptop is a slick and speedy device. Danger developed its own micro-OS to run the VM, an approach that SavaJe has also followed. The company has also licensed ARM's Jazelle accelerator.

"I think you will look at SavaJe as having made a major impact on the wireless marketplace and through that upon wireless computing, not just on mobile phones," wrote CEO Bob Gilkes last September.

When did that happen? ®

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