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Qualcomm beckons developers with BREW

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Qualcomm is touting its BREW platform and development environment among developers of 3D mobile games and those who want an alternative to Symbian and Windows.

Company chief executive Paul Jacobs said BREW's fight for market share among device manufactures and carriers is not over, characterizing the struggle as a battle against Symbian and Windows, not Java.

BREW, or Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless, is Qualcomm's mobile device platform that has struggled against Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME). Java runs on more than 400 different handset models from 32 manufacturers and 34 carriers, while Qualcomm claims 40 manufacturers - companies that inlude PC OEMs - and 66 carriers for BREW servies and so-called "solutions".

You can download a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) to run Java but, arguably, the biggest factor limiting BREW's uptake has been its tie in to Qualcomm's CDMA chip and network architecture, while Java runs on different technologies including the GSM family. CDMA is chiefly used in the US while GSM accounted for more than 77.2 per cent of the world's cellular market by the end of 2005.

Speaking at the annual CTIA Wireless 2006 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, Jacobs said Qualcomm is actively recruiting developers building mobile 3D games - also a key market segment for Sun Microsystems which is going after developers with J2ME.

"That fight (with Java) is not over," Jacobs said. "We are evangelizing to the games developers...technology developers who are interested in that high performance when you want to write to the metal with BREW," Jacobs told The Register. Qualcomm will evangelise further at its BREW 2006 conference next month.

Jacobs said BREW is right for "feature phones", adding "it's not a matter of BREW versus Java to an operator." Instead, it's "BREW versus Symbian or Windows, and in that case you will see BREW run on feature phones. People are writing a BREW-specific application or a core service. That's where it's comparable to Symbian, where they try to do all the core services." ®

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