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New Java for anti-Microsoft mobiles

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Sun is preparing a new release of Java suitable for mobile phones; the aim to anticipate Microsoft's offensive in the mobile device market and to insert new common features that avoid the fragmentation of the solutions offered by the various manufacturers who have chosen Java for their devices.

The new version of Java, which is expected to be approved definitively in the coming weeks, includes a standardized system for downloading programs, better support for sound and networking and a more sophisticated user interface.

The strength of Java on mobile devices (which is called the Mobile Information Device Platform), the ability to run the same program on any cellular platform, be it Siemens, Motorola or Nokia.

The business linked to the next generations of potentially huge smart phones: just think of the possibility of consulting maps, playing games, sending messages and images, checking and placing orders on company databases, etc.

The market, being still young, very fluid and above all subject to very large margins of growth: only 1% of the 73.5 billion dollars moved by cellular telephony in the USA come from data transfer, and the projections for 2006 speak of 20% of 135 billion dollars.

Java currently equips millions of mobile phones already in the hands of consumers, also thanks to the alliances made by Sun (the Java creator) with Motorola, Vodafone and Noika, but Microsoft, with its Smartphone 2002 and Pocket PC Phone Edition projects, appears with great decision in this sector, and any defection in the ranks of Sun's allies would bring converts into the arms of Gates, just as the adoption of slightly modified versions of Java by different manufacturers would be a huge problem.

The preference of the manufacturers of telephones for Java, currently dictated by the fact that with this platform they can participate in the development, while with the MS solution they are forced to the mere role of assemblers. (By Marco Centofanti)