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Sun makes Java mobile triple play

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Sun Microsystems is today expected to launch a media platform targeting consumer devices, pitting itself against Microsoft, Apple, and Adobe Systems.

Sun plans to raise the curtain on its annual JavaOne conference by releasing the Java FX Script scripting language and Java FX family, consisting of a kernel and libraries optimized for resource-constrained devices like mobile phones and set-top boxes running Java.

Java FX Mobile is due first, with Sun announcing early developer access at Tuesday's show. Java FX Mobile is based on intellectual property Sun bought from SavaJe last month. Tools for Java FX will slot into NetBeans.

Not only should the Java FX combo mitigate the need for Microsoft's Windows Media Player for Smartphones, Apple's QuickTime, and Adobe's Flash, but also potentially negate content creation tools from all three vendors, according to Sun.

Sun claims Java FX Script will let developers build and easily deploy content to the Java FX runtime using scripting, bridging the divide between application developers and content creators who currently use different tools. According to Sun, Java FX executes byte code inside the Java Edition Runtime Environment (JRE) on any device running Java Standard Edition (Java SE).

Microsoft made similar noises last week as it released to beta the Silverlight media player and launched the Expression web and content tools, aimed at Adobe.

While Microsoft has enjoyed growing success on phones and Apple is launching iPhone, it's Adobe - renowned for sophisticated content creation tools and Flash on devices from 16 top-name global handset providers - that stands to lose most from Sun's planned offerings. Of course, Adobe has a rich and mature set of offerings, and Sun will need to travel a long, long way to dislodge it.

Sun appears willing to milk its relationship with handset manufacturers and service providers - a market in which Java has thrived. The company is portraying itself as a neutral provider of content tools, while Microsoft and Apple have vested interests in this area.

Rich Green, Sun software executive vice president, told The Register: "There's way more people skilled in producing content rather than programs", and the rate of content creation is growing faster than application development. "Java FX Script creates the tools and techniques to reach out to those people."

Green claimed Sun has a "much firmer grip than Microsoft, Adobe or Apple" on phones. "We are not competing with content sites or mobile handset manufacturers. That lets us partner more effectively...there will be a lot of skepticism when partnering with a company that's a product partner and a competitor. We are not that." ®

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