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Mobile phone providers are fighting back against Apple and Google by cutting the cost of doing business using Java on mobile.

The Unified Test Initiative, a body comprising handset and service providers, has slashed the price it charges Java Mobile Edition (Java ME) developers to test and verify their work properly on different phones and networks.

Developers will pay just 75 euros ($92.91) to test and verify a "simple" Java ME application under UTI's Simple App testing criteria – down from up to 300 euros ($371.64) to sign more complicated apps.

Tests and verification covers a range of functions, such as the ability to install without crashing over the air, to work with different screen sizes, and to support encryption.

The UTI has simplified the test in addition to cutting the price, saying that today, most applications sold for mobile devices from App Stores don't require the full range of tests.

"For applications that don't ask for such privileged access, we've cut down the set of Java Verified tests that need to be run, and therefore the costs," chair of Java Verified and Orange's director of developer services Martin Wrigley said.

The UTI made a point of stressing that Java ME remains the default flavor of Java mobile despite Google's fast-growing Android that actually runs a subset of Java for the desktop – Java Standard Edition (Java SE) and – and the presence of Apple's iPhone that bars Java and runs applications built using its Cocoa framework or inside the Safari browser.

The group claims Java ME is the world's most broadly deployed mobile runtime, on handsets from nine of the top 10 manufacturers and three billion phones worldwide. The group's run by AT&T, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Oracle, Orange, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and Vodafone.

The UTI last week announced that it has achieved independence from Oracle, having been previously owned by Sun Microsystems – the Java steward now owned by Oracle. The move is a possible sign of things to come for the Java Community Process, also owned by Sun.

The group said freedom from Oracle will increase its flexibility in adding new capabilities and functionality to its Java Verified program and ability to quickly implement and manage new quality assurance programs. ®

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