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Motorola tells developers to think small

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JavaOne Motorola executives yesterday portrayed a world where whole populations are bypassing the PC and fixed-line networks to experience the internet using broadband and mobile.

This wireless utopia was sketched out as the firm detailed the challenges and opportunities software developers face building applications for mobile devices targeting global markets.

Thirty two mobile phones are sold every second, adding to the current number of 2.7 billion devices with a country the size of Denmark connected each month in China and India. Motorola is participating in 23 WiMax trials for broadband access.

The challenge, as ever, remains easily and economically building applications and services that can be delivered and displayed in the same way on multiple platforms with different form factors, architectures and screen sizes.

"How do we deliver a compelling experience that's continuous in the mobile revolution, where each device is a platform, each network is a platform, and each spatial domain is a platform?" Motorola executive vice president and chief technology officer Padmasree Warrior asked JavaOne delegates during her keynote.

"As application developers we need to think differently - how do we free up the media from the TV or PC or set top box to appear on different screens...when I talk about personalization, where does the personalization engine go? In the device, network, or the cloud? How to we manage authentications - give access to a limited number of people? Applications are going to have to be thought of and delivered in an integrated way," she said.

Of course, Motorola must share the blame with other handset and consumer manufacturers for frustrating developers in the first place. The company alone sells 39 different handsets and 17 lines of consumer products just in the US.

Warrior encouraged developers to adopt new ways to presenting data and services and to avoid "monolithic programming". This could mean delivering applications or services to suit the user in different usage scenarios. Backing this up, Warrior demonstrated a Motorola handset in China, with a main menu that could be changed to display items in linear, grid, and carousel formats.

According to Motorola fellow Mark Vandenbrink this particular software feature can be integrated anywhere in the phone stack, making it transferrable. "Whether it's touch screen or keypad, this has allowed us to do the same work and cut tweaking down to different devices by a factor of 10," he said. ®

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